Have you been asking others to repeat themselves more often? Does it seem like EVERYONE mumbles? Have family members commented on how you turn up the TV volume more than usual?
If so, you might need to get a hearing test.
Why Would I Need a Hearing Test?
Many times, hearing loss is so gradual, that we don’t even notice the change. This is why loved ones are often the first to notice, while you think everything is fine and normal. You should get a hearing test if you or a loved one have noticed a decline in hearing.
If you experienced sudden hearing loss, you need to seek immediate treatment from an ENT.
In more serious cases, hearing loss may indicate a major medical issue.
What happens during a hearing test?
This is one of the most common questions we get from clients, especially from first timers who have never experienced a hearing test in their life. The main goal of a hearing test is for an audiologist to check the human auditory pathways which include the inner, outer and middle ear.
Hearing Test: Outer Ear
The most exposed part of the ear is the outer ear and we want to ensure that this area is clean and clear from any debris. In this test, the health of the eardrum is also checked – ensuring that it is intact with no visible obstruction to block sounds from going where it needs to go.
Hearing Test: Middle Ear
The middle ear begins with the eardrum, which has a mechanical function in the hearing process. Think of the eardrum as a sail of a sailboat; there are bones attached to the eardrum and the bones are moving along with the eardrum.
The mechanical function of the eardrum is checked through a tuning fork test where the sounds are introduced directly through the ear, skull or cranium. Sounds can be heard through vibration and this type of hearing can give an audiologist information about that certain part of the ear.
A tympanometer is another machine used during a hearing test. With a tympanometer, the movement of the mechanisms in the ears is measured as pressures are presented. We would want to ensure that the middle ear is healthy and working the way it should be mechanically.
Hearing Test: Auditory Pathways
The auditory pathways are also checked during a hearing test. This part is full of dense fluid with around 20,000 tiny hair cells which plays a role in the ear controls.
When viewed with the naked eye, the hair cells inside the auditory pathways look quite similar to the hairs on our hand; but, when viewed microscopically, it is actually composed of a thousand hair cells, each playing a small yet significant part to control tone or pitch. Over time, the hairs inside the ear can change, just like the hairs on top of our head.
These changes can be brought on by the natural ageing process or be triggered by ototoxic medications or noise. Did you know that 90% of hearing loss occurs due to the damage or atrophy of the ear’s hair cells? A hearing test can physically check the integrity of the inner ear hair cells.
Speech In Noise Test
A hearing test can also determine the amount of noise a patient can tolerate for him to be able to comprehend what is being said by the speaker.
During a hearing test, a patient may come across sounds that mimic common social situations such as being in a restaurant, in a party, concert, airport, etc.
Hearing tests and its accompanying procedures allow audiologists to identify a patient’s hearing limits and capabilities in noisy environments. A hearing test greatly helps in guiding an audiologist to provide the best hearing aid options for a patient.
Hearing Test – Pure Tone Audiometry
This type of hearing test is used to identify the hearing threshold levels of a patient, serving as a guide for audiologists in determining the type, degree and configuration of hearing loss. Pure tone audiometry supplies the basis for diagnosis, management or treatment of hearing loss.
Hearing Test – Speech Audiometry
This is a test conducted to accurately measure a person’s ability to recognize speech. Speech audiometry results can determine the speech reception threshold of a person.
If done right, this hearing test can improve the communication abilities and sociability of a person with hearing loss. More often than not, people with hearing loss tend to feel isolated and just end up making an effort to be part of a conversation.
We at HearCare Audiology Indiana rally for inclusivity and we want patients with hearing loss to be given a chance to have meaningful conversations with the people who matter the most. A hearing test will definitely go a long way. Contact any of our six hearing centers in Indiana to get started.
Where is a hearing test performed?
A hearing test is usually performed in a soundproof room or sound enclosure to ensure that the ears will be masked from external noise. A patient will be asked to push buttons whenever they hear certain sound/s.
But what about patients who are somewhat claustrophobic? We can still carry out a hearing test outside the sound booth, but the patient will have to wear a special set of headphones in lieu of the sound booth.
What happens after a hearing test?
The results of a hearing test will determine the next steps of an audiologist and the intervention to be given, including the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Hearing Test & Recruitment
In the hearing health field, the word recruitment takes on a whole different meaning. Recruitment is a phenomenon where an individual experiences abnormal loudness growth.
A person with hearing loss does not necessarily need to make ALL SOUNDS louder just to hear better. There are instances when just certain sounds in specific frequencies need to be a bit louder. We don’t want to make the sounds TOO LOUD for patients, and a hearing test would be the best guide for this.
A hearing test helps an audiologist to provide balanced amplification so a hearing aid user may enjoy audio at comfortable levels based on his or her hearing loss.
Traditional vs Online Hearing Tests
Nowadays, people have access to online hearing tests, which is quite convenient because it eliminates the need to leave home and go to an audiologist’s clinic.
Question is – is an online hearing test accurate? From an expert’s point of view, the results of an online hearing test MAY BE partially accurate BUT it’s not 100% guaranteed to identify the extent of your hearing problems.
There’s really nothing wrong with trying an online hearing test (especially if it’s FREE), but we would suggest that you correlate or confirm the results of an online hearing test with a real hearing test conducted by an audiologist.
Is it important to have a hearing test?
There’s no such thing as equal hearing – even a pair of identical twins will have different hearing levels. There are also different types of hearing loss – some may hear better with low or high pitches, some may experience tone deafness while some may still hear well but have difficulty hearing certain tones or frequencies. All those “could be’s” can be settled by a hearing test.
Because hearing loss is relative and lies on a wide spectrum of levels, a comprehensive hearing test is the way to establish an accurate hearing loss diagnosis.
Going through a hearing test is not really time consuming – it only takes around 10-15 minutes, 20 minutes max, for a patient to sit inside a sound booth. During that time, audio sampling and assessment will be performed to determine where the sound voids are present.
HearCare Audiology Indiana – Hearing Test
We have six audiology centers around Indiana that offer different hearing tests. Most of the hearing tests are performed inside a sound booth. Audiologists at HearCare Audiology Indiana are experts in carrying out different procedures of various hearing tests to ensure the highest accuracy of the test results. A hearing test helps us in determining the reason behind the hearing loss – if it is a temporary condition or there are already permanent damages in the nerves.