As we age or are affected by different events in our lives, our hearing can begin to deteriorate. While aging is the most common cause of hearing loss, there are many other factors that can cause our hearing to suffer. For example, exposure to loud noise and certain health conditions can affect our hearing in a negative way.
In order to evaluate your hearing, it’s important to visit an audiologist who can administer a hearing test. Hearing tests are a non-invasive way to determine your level of hearing loss and move forward with potential treatment options. Many people are curious about what happens during a hearing test, as oftentimes, people do not receive them regularly. In this article, we will discuss what you can expect during a hearing test and how you can prepare for your appointment.
Preparing for Your Hearing Test
Before your hearing exam, make sure you take the time to clearly define what you’re struggling with so that you can tell your doctor. Sit down and ask yourself what your most significant complaint is. Are you experiencing a ringing in your ears? Are you having trouble picking out a particular voice amongst the crowd? Are you having a hard time understanding what people are saying? All of these are important questions to consider when getting ready for your hearing test.
Remember that there are many different kinds of hearing loss. The way you’re experiencing your hearing loss may be completely different from the last patient your audiologist saw. Thus, it’s essential to take the time to clearly define your symptoms and struggles so that you can express them to your hearing specialist. The more specific you can be, the better your doctor will be able to help you and offer potential treatment options.
What to Expect During a Hearing Test
Hearing tests are typically administered in a similar fashion no matter where you are located. To begin with, your hearing professional will ask questions about your medical and family history. Because there are so many reasons why hearing loss occurs, it’s important that your specialist takes the time to understand your background before delving into the exam.
Next, your doctor should take the time to physically look in your ear using an otoscope. They will be able to see if there are any obvious issues that are affecting your hearing, such as a build-up of ear wax or clear structural damage. This portion of the exam will be painless and will allow your audiologist to understand if there is something simple that can be done to help your hearing, such as ear wax removal.
Once your doctor has an overview of your hearing health, they will move onto your hearing exam. They typically take place in a room that is sealed off and sound-proofed in order to eliminate outside noise. In order to get ready for testing, you will be fitted with headphones or earbuds so that you will only hear the sounds that are necessary for your exam.
Once you’re fitted with your headphones, you will begin moving through the different phases of the hearing test. There are several different sections that you’re likely to experience. Some of the different components of a hearing test that you may encounter are:
1) Pure-Tone Audiometry
This part of the hearing test is designed to determine the softest sounds that you can hear at various frequencies. You will listen carefully through your headphones to different tones that will be various pitches and volumes. You will also be able to hear your audiologist through the headphones, and they will instruct you on how to proceed.
2) Speech Audiometry
Additionally, you will likely go through a speech audiometry portion of the exam. The purpose here is to evaluate the way you experience speech–looking for the softest speaking sounds that you can hear. Thus, you will listen to someone speaking or a recorded speech down to the softest level you can hear.
Once your audiologist determines the softest level of speech you can register, your specialist will move on to determining what words you can understand. Your audiologist will play speech that is loud enough for you to hear and then ask you to repeat back words as they’re played for you in order to see how well you can clearly understand what is being said. Additionally, your audiologist may also play music or other sounds in the background of the speech to see how well you can understand speech in real-world situations.
Additionally, you may go through a tympanometry portion of the exam. This part of the exam will help to determine how well your eardrum moves, test your middle-ear reflexes, and also check for any fluid build-up. In order to administer this portion of the exam, your audiologist will supply you with a soft plug for your ear that will create pressure changes while also generating sound.
There are other tests that your hearing specialist may want to administer, depending on your description of your symptoms. Remember that no part of your hearing exam will be painful, but it may take several different tests to understand exactly what is going on with your hearing.
A hearing exam is a painless and non-invasive exam that is used to understand your hearing health. There are often several different components to the complete exam, including a health and family overview, a physical examination, and several different testing procedures that will take place in a sound-proof room. If you are struggling with hearing issues, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional in order to determine what kind of hearing loss you’re experiencing and what your treatment options are.