What Are the Features of a Modern Hearing Test?
Hearing loss can affect anyone, so if you suspect you might need a hearing test, don't delay in booking an appointment with a hearing professional. The sooner you do, the greater your quality of life will become, as hearing loss can have far-reaching effects on your health and general wellbeing.
By booking an appointment with a hearing instrument specialist (HIS), you will get a baseline hearing test that will determine how mild or severe your hearing loss might be. The test will also define the type of hearing loss you are experiencing, and whether the best response should be medical treatment, earwax removal, cochlear implants or the addition of a hearing aid.
So, if you are thinking about booking an appointment with a HIS, here is an overview of what to expect at your appointment, and the features of a modern hearing test.
Your HIS will want to know your medical history, with specific relation to anything that might affect your hearing health. They will also want to know about any other contributing factor that could affect your hearing, such as your history with earwax or how much exposure you have had to loud noises. During this initial discussion, you will have the chance to discuss the symptoms you are experiencing, and how your suspected hearing loss has affected your life.
Be as open and as honest as you can be, because this discussion around your hearing history can be very important when determining the cause behind your hearing loss.
The hearing test
Many people worry about what a hearing test might involve, but there is no need to fret. They are painless and non-invasive and don't last for long.
Hearing tests occur in quiet, sound-treated rooms that are designed to keep out any noises that could affect your test score. After sitting down in a comfortable chair, you will be asked to wear a set of headphones that are connected to an audiometer, the instrument that is used to carry out the test.
Hearing tests usually have two components: Pure tone audiometry and speech audiometry.
When wearing your headphones, you will listen to tones that will range in pitch and volume. During this stage, it is important to listen carefully, as you will need to respond to the tone sounds every time you hear something. The test is designed to measure your ability to hear certain frequencies, and it will let the HIS know how mild or severe your hearing ability is.
This portion of the test determines your capacity to hear speech at specific volumes, and it checks how clearly you can distinguish and understand certain words when they are being spoken. During the test, you will hear a recording of common words being spoken at varying volumes, and you will then be asked to repeat them. This will determine your speech reception threshold, the lowest volume at which you can hear and recognize the spoken word.
After the main two components of the hearing test, your HIS might carry out what is known as a tympanometry test. This is done with a special instrument placed into your ear to detect any problems you might be having with your middle ear. It can also be used to determine whether you might need a hearing aid if you do have hearing loss, or if you need specific medical treatment. You might find this part of the test a little uncomfortable as, while it is painless, you won't be able to speak, swallow or make any other movement that could affect the result of the test.
After the hearing test
Your HIS will present the two main components of your hearing test on an audiogram. This is a graph that displays the sounds you heard at different pitches and frequencies, and indicates the quality of your hearing. From this, your HIS will be able to determine whether your hearing is normal, or whether you are experiencing mild, moderate, severe or profound hearing loss.
If you do have hearing loss, then your HIS will discuss the next step with you. This could be as simple as ear cleaning if you do have a buildup of wax, though a hearing aid, implant or medical treatment could also be advised.
Here at the Center for Better Hearing, we are dedicated to helping you with every aspect of your hearing health. So, if you suspect you might need a hearing test, or if you have any other concerns, contact us at 510-768-7091 and book an appointment with one of our team.