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What to Expect During a Hearing Test

What to Expect During a Hearing Test

If you have had a hearing screening that indicates you might have hearing loss you will be referred to an audiologist for a complete hearing test. Here’s what to expect during a visit to the audiologist for a hearing test.

Physical examination

The audiologist will look at your ears to get an idea of how they are functioning. They will use an instrument called an otoscope to see the ear canal and the eardrum. This visual inspection looks for obstructing earwax, fluid and at the condition of the eardrum (tympanic membrane).

Tympanometry

This test is used to evaluate the condition of the middle ear, the tympanic membrane and the small conductive bones in the middle ear.

It doesn’t test hearing but it tests the function of the hearing organs. It can be used to determine if hearing loss is sensorineural or conductive.

A small tympanometer probe will be placed in your ear canal. The instrument will change the pressure in the ear, generate a pure tone, and then measure how the eardrum responds. The test will be repeated at different pressures to determine how much of the tone is reflected.

Audiometry

This test measures your ability to hear sounds. Your ability to hear the intensity and tone of sounds will be established. Intensity refers to the loudness of the sound and is measured in decibels. Tone refers to the pitch of the sound and is measured in hertz.

You will be given a set of headphones to wear. These will be attached to the audiometer. Tones of different intensities will be delivered to one ear at a time. You will be directed to indicate when you hear the sound. You may be asked to raise your hand or press a button. Some audiologists use a special soundproof room instead of headphones to conduct the test.

The results will be plotted on a chart known as an audiogram. Volume will be on the vertical axis. Louder sounds at the top, softer sounds at the bottom. Pitch will be on the horizontal axis. The low-pitched sounds will be on the left and the high-pitched sounds will be on the right.

Other hearing tests

In addition, the audiologist may perform certain simple hearing screening tests such as the Rinne test and the Weber test. Both tests use a tuning fork placed in different areas of the head to measure how sounds are conducted through the bones.

Test results

After your hearing tests, the audiologist will review the results and interpret the audiogram and tympanogram for you. If the tests indicate hearing loss, the audiologist can explain to you the type of hearing loss you experience and how you can adapt. This can include strategies for better understanding of conversations and the usage of hearing aids.

Talking to your audiologist

Think of your audiologist as your partner in hearing health. Don’t be afraid to discuss questions or fears you have about your hearing. Your audiologist is there to help you get the most of your hearing.