Hearing loss isn’t always immediately noticeable. It often develops gradually, leaving you unaware that you are suffering from diminished hearing. By the time you recognize a problem, your treatment options may be limited. Hearing tests can spot hearing loss early on, and are a crucial step in determining the type and extent of your impairment. They allow your audiologist to come up with a treatment plan geared toward your specific needs.
Older adults aren’t the only ones who benefit from hearing evaluations. Newborns are routinely screened for hearing loss in order to address problems that might interfere with their speech and language development. Even otherwise healthy adults should consider having their hearing tested on a regular basis in order to detect issues early on.
Common Hearing Tests
Regardless of the type of hearing test(s) you have, the first step involves a review of your medical history; your audiologist will ask questions about your hearing in order to gather pertinent information about your condition. After an inspection of your ears using a lighted instrument called an otoscope, your hearing will be tested. Any or all of the following tests may be administered.
- Pure Tone Audiometry. You’ll be given headphones and asked to respond to tones or words. This measures your degree of hearing loss, and which frequencies are affected.
- Tuning Fork Tests. A tuning fork is struck to cause vibrations, and your response helps determine how well sound travels through your ears.
- Speech recognition tests. You are asked to repeat a series of words in order to evaluate your speech comprehension abilities at different volume levels.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR). Electrodes attached to the scalp and earlobes measure your brain’s response to a series of clicking sounds. This is used to detect sensorineural hearing loss.
These tests are safe, reliable and painless, and are very helpful in assessing your type and degree of hearing loss. They enable your audiologist to come up with a treatment solution that should greatly improve your ability to communicate.