Congratulations on taking an active role in caring for your auditory and vestibular system! A regular hearing evaluation is recommended, similar to a regular eye and dental evaluation. It is important to establish a baseline and on-going record of your hearing status. Changes in hearing may occur due to medication(s), noise exposure, illness, and other cause(s). After your initial hearing evaluation, be sure to maintain updated evaluations.
What should you expect at a hearing test?
Take comfort in knowing there is no pain involved with a hearing test!
Your audiologist will conduct a case history interview to gather information regarding your hearing health. Your audiologist may also inquire about other health history that effects your hearing. See examples below.
- When did you first notice your hearing loss?
- Do you hear better with your right ear, left ear, or the same in both ears?
- Do you have pain in your ears?
- Have you experienced dizziness or vertigo?
- Do you experience tinnitus (sounds in your ears)?
- Have you been exposed to hazardous noise?
- Does anyone in your family have hearing loss?
- What medications are you taking?
The audiologist will start with a physical examination using a special instrument called an otoscope. With this examination the audiologist checks the condition of the ear canal and eardrum. After the physical examination, your hearing is tested. This takes place in a quiet room without background noise or in a special sound-treated booth.
The first test is a pure-tone audiometry. This tests your ability to hear a number of different pure-tones using a insert earphones or headphones.
Next, the audiologist will conduct bone conduction audiometry by placing a small bone conductor on your forehead or behind your ear. This test will reveal your type of hearing loss (outer/middle-ear vs. inner ear or both).
After pure-tone audiometry, the audiologist will test your ability to understand speech with speech audiometry. This investigates whether there could be problems processing speech in the auditory nerve or in the brain.
The audiologist may assess the condition of your middle ear and the auditory nerve by performing a pressure and reflex test of the middle ear and its muscles.
The results of the tests are presented in an audiogram, which shows the type and degree of your hearing. This helps the audiologist to determine if treatment or further testing is recommended (cochlear implant candidacy, auditory processing evaluation, hearing aids, hearing assistive devices, etc.)