You’ve made that step to schedule an appointment with an audiologist to learn more about your own hearing health. Good for you! Before you go, it may be helpful to know what to expect during the exam.
There are numerous types of evaluations that your audiologist may choose to perform. The following are eight common types of hearing loss tests which may be considered. Your audiologist will probably not conduct all of these tests, he or she will determine which method is most appropriate for you.
In an audiometry test, your hearing is measured using a range of frequencies, from low to high. The American Hearing Research Foundation reported that these frequencies typically range from 250 to 8,000 Hz. This can help determine which frequencies you hear at best.
To measure your middle ear function, a tympanometry test evaluates the stiffness of your eardrum. According to the AHRF, this type of test can help providers to diagnose a variety of issues, including fluid in the middle ear, negative middle ear pressure, disruption of the ossicles, tympanic membrane perforation, and otosclerosis.”
3. Pure-Tone Testing
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association describes pure-tone testing as a “pure-tone air conduction hearing test [that] determines the faintest tones a person can hear at selected pitches (frequencies), from low to high.” Sound is introduced through headphones and readings are taken for each ear. You will typically be asked to respond in some way, such as pressing a button when you hear a certain tone.
A hearing test is the first step in determining if you have hearing loss.
4. Speech Testing
To help confirm the results from the pure-tone test, your audiologist might perform speech testing. In this evaluation, your provider will test your ability hear and repeat back words at different sound thresholds. The ASHA reported that sometimes these tests are performed in noisy environments because many people with hearing loss have trouble hearing conversations when there are sounds in the background. The results are a good indicator of whether or not a person will benefit from the use of a hearing aid or other assistive listening device.
5. Electrocochleography (ECOG)
Electocochleography evaluates the electrical potentials that the cochlea creates when exposed to sound. The Weill Cornell Medical College reported that it is often used to diagnose Meniere’s disease, as well as other disorders. During the test, earphones placed in the ear canal transmit a sound. The cochlea’s response is then picked up by electrodes on the forehead. The audiologist then interprets the resulting waves to determine the function of the cochlea.
6. Acoustic Reflex Measures and Static Acoustic Measures
There are also tests that evaluate how the middle ear is functioning. According to the ASHA, this part of your ear is measured through acoustic reflex measures and static acoustic measures, as well as the previously mentioned tympanometry. This type of testing is common in preschool-aged children, who may come down with a middle ear disease that damages their hearing.
7. Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)
In an auditory brainstem response test, an audiologist measures the amount of time it takes for sound to get from your ear to the part of your brain that processes the noise. The purpose of this test is to ensure that the pathway that connects these two areas is functioning properly. During the test, you will wear an earplug in each ear and electrodes on your head, which will measure your brain’s response as sounds are played.
8. Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs)
An otoacoustic emissions test uses a probe placed in the ear canal to measure the nearly inaudible sounds created by your inner ear in response to external noises. If these sounds are not produced, it’s a sign that you have hearing loss.
Your audiologist will be happy to answer any questions you have about the methods used, and to discuss the results with you privately and confidentially.