What do Hearing Tests Entail?
So, you have made the decision to get your hearing checked out. Your first audiology appointment can be a daunting prospect, especially if you’re not sure what to expect. This article will tell you a little about what is likely to happen so that you can attend this first appointment feeling fully prepared! There is a range of simple and painless tests that your audiologist may ask you to participate in, designed to answer the following questions:
- Is there any loss of hearing?
- How severe is the hearing loss?
- Is the hearing loss present in both ears?
- What type of hearing loss is the patient experiencing?
- What is the cause of the hearing loss? (It may not always be possible to answer this question at your first appointment)
- What are the best treatment options?
When you arrive, your appointment will probably begin with a consultation; your audiologist will want to know about your concerns regarding your hearing, any other symptoms you may be experiencing and some details about your medical history. Following that you will move on to the hearing evaluation. Here is some more information about the different types of test your audiologist might use to evaluate your hearing:
Pure tone audiometry
This test will determine the severity and balance (one or both ears) of your hearing loss. You will be asked to respond to sounds of different pitches and volumes as they are played in to your ear through headphones.
Speech audiometry or speech perception testing will help your audiologist to determine to what extent your hearing loss affects your ability to understand speech. This test will require you to listen to and repeat or identify spoken words.
Bone conduction testing
This will help your audiologist to figure out which part of your ear is causing the problem. A tuning fork placed behind the ear will emit a sound that bypasses the outer and middle ear to test the function of the inner ear.
Acoustic reflex measures
This is another test that will help pinpoint the location of the problem; it is designed to measure the contraction of a tiny muscle in your middle ear in response to loud sounds. The level of sound required to cause reflex responses – or the complete absence of a response – are both factors which can help your audiologist determine the location and nature of your hearing problem.
Like acoustic reflex measures, tympanometry requires no engagement from you, the participant. A small tube will be inserted in to the entrance of the ear canal; a gentle puff of air will then be blown towards the eardrum to measure its movement. An inflexible eardrum will not easily allow sound to pass through, and could be the cause of your hearing impairment.
At the end of your appointment, your audiologist will spend some time going through your test results with you – do not be afraid to ask questions if there is anything you are not clear on!