Who should get a hearing test?
Hearing loss can be gradual and difficult to notice until it’s advanced. That’s why you should have your hearing screened once a year. Not only will this help uncover changes in your hearing early, it can also detect early signs of other health issues.
You should get a hearing test if you find yourself:
- Straining to hear conversations
- Asking family and friends to repeat themselves often
- Missing lines in movies or at the theater
- Listening to the TV at a level so loud that others complain
- Turning the volume up all the way on your phone
What will a hearing test show?
Hearing tests measure your ability to hear different frequencies at different volumes. They can also measure things like pressure behind the ear to see if there is fluid behind the eardrum. When you’re finished, you’ll get an audiogram, which is a printout of your test results. If it turns out you need hearing aids, the audiogram helps us program your hearing aid to your specific hearing loss, similar to getting a prescription for eyeglasses.
What happens during a hearing test?
Your hearing is an important part of your overall health. Because hearing loss is often related to other health issues, we’ll begin by reviewing recent changes to your health. We’ll also ask a number of questions about where you notice you are struggling to hear. Your answers will provide clues as to what kind of hearing loss you’re experiencing and how to best treat it.
We’ll also take a look in your ears to make sure there isn’t any earwax blocking the canal and to look for signs of infection. Depending on what this initial hearing evaluation uncovers we may opt to do additional hearing tests.
Audiometric hearing test
Can you hear sounds, but have trouble making out what people are saying? This hearing test will determine how well you hear different tones and how well you’re able to hear words. We’ll say words that are commonly misunderstood and ask you to repeat them. The results of this test show hearing loss as a percentage and is a good indication of whether hearing aids will work for you.
Tympanometry hearing test
This hearing test will gently change the ear pressure to check how well your middle ear is functioning. If your eardrum is able to move freely and the conduction of bones appear to be normal it’s a sign that your hearing loss is not caused by things like an infection, congestion or an obstruction.
Otoacoustic emission testing (OAEs)
While tympanometry evaluates the middle ear, OAEs measure how well the inner ear is working. You’ll listen to a variety of sounds, and the test will measure how the inner ear responds to those sounds.
How to read your hearing test results
Your hearing test results will come to you as a chart called an audiogram. Along the left side is the volume as measured in decibels. Along the bottom are frequencies. Laying it out on a chart allows you to see clearly whether you have hearing loss at higher or lower frequencies and how bad it is. (Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through this.) If you can’t hear a sound until it’s at least 30 decibels you have some hearing loss. The louder a sound has to be before you hear it, the more severe your hearing loss is.