From the questions your audiologist might ask to the tests you may receive, here’s how to prepare for your appointment.

If you’re wondering what to expect at a hearing test, find out how to prepare here.Doctors often recommend a hearing test at least once every 10 years, or annually if you experience hearing loss or balance problems. If you’re due for a hearing health check and it’s your first time – or it’s been a while – you may be wondering what is involved. In general, hearing tests are simple, painless, and quick – usually taking only about 30 minutes.

While patient needs and audiology procedures vary, here is a general idea of what to expect at a hearing test:

  1. Personal history
  2. Hearing tests
  3. Interpretation of your results

Learn more about what to expect from your hearing test below.

1. Personal history
The first thing your doctor will likely do is work to understand information about your personal hearing experience. Hearing health history questions to expect before your hearing test might include:

  • Have you noticed changes in your hearing ability?
  • Are there certain situations where you have difficulty hearing (e.g., in groups or around ambient noise)?
  • Have you experienced any ear or head injuries in the past?
  • Are you often around loud noises at work or home?
  • Do you have any concerns about your hearing?

In the weeks before your hearing test, you may want to pay extra attention to your hearing experiences in different environments so that you can share them with your audiologist.

In addition to answering questions, you may also have ones to ask. Find out what questions to ask your audiologist here.

2. Hearing tests
While the exact procedure may vary for each situation, there are some common types of hearing tests that many audiologists use. Often, the appointment will begin by playing sounds of various frequencies and volumes in each ear separately through headphones. For instance, a high-pitched beep might be played, and you’ll press a button if you hear it. Or, a voice might quietly say a word or a sentence, and you’ll be asked to repeat what you hear (if anything). These pure-tone and speech hearing tests will help you and your doctor understand how well you can hear high and low frequencies and distinguish different types of speech. Your doctor may follow up with additional hearing tests based on the results.

Learn more about different types of hearing tests your doctor may perform here.

3. Interpretation of your results
In many cases, you can expect to learn the results of your hearing tests right away. The hearing test may help identify any frequency ranges of sound that are particularly challenging for your individual hearing. If you do have some degree of hearing loss, it will be measured using decibels on a scale from mild to profound:

  • Mild hearing loss: Unable to hear sounds between 26 and 40dB. For example, you may have difficulty having conversations when there is a lot background noise.
  • Moderate hearing loss: Unable to hear sounds up to 69dB. At this level, regular conversation volume becomes difficult to hear.
  • Severe hearing loss: Unable to hear sounds lower than 70-94dB and need to read lips or use a hearing aid or other assistive listening device to hear conversations.
  • Profound hearing loss: Unable to hear sounds under 95dB

Your doctor will be able to walk you through what your results mean and, if needed, suggest tools to help make hearing easier like Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs), hearing aids, or other assistive listening device.

Scheduling a hearing test helps you to be better informed to make personal decisions about your own hearing health. More information about protecting your hearing and living with hearing loss is available on our blog.

This information is presented only as a general overview to help you prepare for a hearing test. Your audiologist or doctor is the best source to answer any questions you may have.

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