What To Expect From A Hearing Test

A hearing test may not be something you consider getting until you feel like you already have a problem, but getting a baseline and regular tests can help catch problems before they become serious. A test will typically take less than an hour and can help you discern whether anything has changed since your last test or what hearing help you may require.

Baseline Testing

A baseline test is a test that all future tests will reference. It provides a starting point on your record that your doctor can look at when you come in for future tests to see if anything has changed. This is typically a standard hearing test, and any hearing tests you take in the future will probably be like your baseline test unless your doctor feels the need to do something more specific in accordance with your needs.

What a Hearing Test Involves

A hearing test starts with answering some basic questions, then proceeds on to a variety of short physical tests. You may experience some or even all of the types of tests listed below:

  • Health History: Your doctor will ask you about any hearing problems you have have noticed, your family's history of hearing problems, what symptoms or pain you may be experiencing, etc.
  • Visual Examination: Your doctor uses an otoscope to examine your ear canal and ear drum to look for wax blockage, perforations or signs of infection.
  • Air Conduction Test: You will sit in a booth or quiet room while wearing headphones. Your doctor will play tones at different frequencies, and each tone will be played softer and softer until you can no longer hear it. You will be asked to press a button whenever you can hear the tone being played.
  • Bone Conduction Test: Similar to the air conduction test, but differs in that you will use a device that fits behind your ear. This tests your inner ear's hearing capabilities.
  • Speech Testing: You will listen to different words, typically two-syllable words, at progressively softer volumes. This will help determine how you can detect speech. 

Signs and Causes of Hearing Loss

Some symptoms of hearing loss include hearing muffled speech, having difficulty understanding words, frequently asking others to speak louder or slowly and having difficulty understanding others in social situations. These problems don't just come with old age or hearing disorders; hearing loss can be caused by exposure to noise, a buildup of wax, ear infections and ruptured eardrums.

When You Should Get Tested

Like other tests, it's beneficial to get a hearing test about once a year. This helps keep track of your hearing compared to past years and catch any potential hearing problems early. With a little reading, you can go to websites to find more information on protecting and monitoring your hearing.