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How Does an Audiologist Conduct a Hearing Test?

a hearing test

A hearing test gives you the opportunity to determine whether you’re experiencing hearing loss and, if so, what type of hearing loss you’re affected by. With this information, your audiologist will be able to assess whether any treatment is required and, if so, what the most effective treatment options for you are.

It’s advisable for everyone to undergo routine hearing tests, in the same way you might visit an optometrist for a regular eye exam. By having your hearing checked regularly, you can ensure that any issues affecting your hearing function are identified and resolved quickly. 

What happens at a hearing test?  

In most cases, your audiologist will begin by asking you whether you have any concerns regarding your hearing function and whether you’re experiencing any symptoms. If you feel that your hearing function is different in louder environments, for example, it’s useful to give your audiologist this information before the test begins. Similarly, if you have experienced any tinnitus-related symptoms, it’s wise to let your audiologist know.

Before conducting your hearing test, your audiologist will look inside your ears. This gives them the opportunity to determine whether there are any visible issues that may be affecting your hearing function, such as blocked wax or the presence of a foreign body in your ear canal. Once the audiologist is satisfied that there is nothing that would prevent them from being carried out effectively, they will begin.

A hearing test is used to assess your hearing ability. When having a hearing test, you’ll typically be asked to wear headphones and to indicate when you hear a sound. Often, you are asked to press a button or raise your hand whenever you hear a sound, however quiet that sound may be. However, your audiologist may offer varying instructions, so be sure to clarify the exact requirements of the test if you’re unsure.

How does a hearing test work?

This comprehensive evaluation of your hearing measures two main functions; the volume you can hear and the pitch you can hear. The volume is measured in decibels, while the pitch or frequency is measured in hertz. 

While you are wearing the headphones, your audiologist will play a series of sounds. You will indicate which sounds you can hear, and these will be plotted on to the audiogram accordingly. At the end of the test, your audiologist will be able to evaluate whether you have any hearing loss, based on which sounds you heard or did not hear. 

Your hearing test may indicate that you can hear high-pitched frequencies at very low volumes but only low-pitched frequencies at a relatively high volume, for example. 

As well as playing a series of sounds and asking you to indicate when you hear something, your audiologist may also carry out a speech test. This works in a very similar way but involves listing to a recording of people speaking, rather than random sounds. You might be asked to press a button when you hear the conversation, or you might be asked to repeat it back to your audiologist. 

By incorporating real-life speech into the hearing test, your audiologist can determine whether any hearing loss if affecting your ability to hear conversations. As speech can vary quite considerably depending on the environment and the person speaking, this kind of testing can be a highly effective way of determining whether your hearing loss affects your ability to hear, and subsequently take part, in conversations going around you. 

Understanding your audiogram

Once all the testing has been conducted, your audiologist will go through the results of your audiogram with you. They will discuss what level of hearing loss you have if it was indicated during the evaluation. If hearing loss is present, they will talk to you about your treatment options, most commonly hearing aids. Hearing aids come in several different styles, including:

  • Behind the ear (BTE)
  • Mini BTE
  • In the ear (ITE)
  • In the canal (ITC)
  • Completely in canal (CIC)
  • Invisible in canal (IIC)

Your audiologist will work with you to recommend the best devices for your specific needs. This means finding the right hearing aid to suit your lifestyle, hearing loss and budget needs.

In total, a hearing test only takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to complete depending on the series of tests ordered. It is the most accurate way to identify hearing loss and, if necessary, to obtain the treatment and tools you need to enhance your hearing function and auditory experience. To learn more about the hearing tests we conduct at Tops Hearing & Balance Center call our office at 281-920-3911.