Hearing testing is a measurement of the sensitivity of your hearing over different frequencies – a key to determining whether you are suffering from hearing loss and, if so, what the type and severity are. It is the first step in helping an audiologist develop a hearing treatment plan for you.
Importance of Hearing Testing
Hearing loss isn’t always immediately apparent to those suffering from its effects. It can develop gradually, slowly worsening over time without one even realizing there is a problem. Hearing testing is used to determine whether a person is experiencing hearing loss, and is administered to patients of all ages.
When sound waves enter the ear, they are converted to electrical signals and sent to the brain for interpretation. Sounds differ based on intensity, which is measured in decibels, and tone or speed. Sounds exceeding 85 decibels (dB) for an extended period of time can cause permanent damage and hearing loss.
Common Hearing Tests
When you come in for your hearing testing appointment, you may be given any or all of the following tests:
- Pure Tone Audiometry. The patient is given headphones attached to a device called an audiometer, and asked to respond to a series of tones or words that vary in frequency and volume. The results are tracked on a chart called an audiogram, which plots the different frequencies that aren’t being heard correctly. This allows the audiologist to figure out the degree of hearing loss.
- Tuning Fork Tests. A tuning fork, a metal instrument that produces a tone and vibrations when struck, can be used to determine the extent that sound travels through a patient’s ear based on their response.
- Speech reception and word recognition tests. Patients are asked to repeat a series of words spoken at different volume levels in order to measure your ability to hear and comprehend everyday speech.
- Auditory Brain Stem Response (ABR) testing. When sensorineural hearing loss is suspected, ABR testing is used to verify the diagnosis. Electrodes are attached to the scalp and earlobes, and the patient is fitted with headphones that emit clicking noises. The electrodes measure the brain’s response to the clicking.