Understanding Hearing Tests

Understanding Hearing Tests

In Hearing Loss by Hearing Technology Associates

Hearing loss comes on so subtly and gradually, it is often difficult for people to realize that it is happening to them. Studies show that more than 2/3 of the almost 50 million Americans that suffer from hearing loss do so without seeking proper treatment. But untreated hearing loss has major impacts on your overall health, which is why it is so important to keep up with annual hearing tests so that any damage can be caught early. 

A hearing test will determine how severe your hearing loss is, what type of hearing loss it is, and consequently guide the most effective course to remedy it. Hearing tests are simple and painless. They are recommended for anyone who is even beginning to suspect that they may be experiencing trouble hearing, and everyone who is demographically at risk: everyone over 60 or who works in high-risk industries such as construction or hospitality.

Arriving For The Hearing Test 

When you arrive for your hearing test, you will first fill out a form asking about the history of your hearing health to catch any red flags in your family, medical or personal history, such as loud work environments or other exposures to potentially dangerous volume levels. The specialist will then inquire about any symptoms you may be experiencing, some of which you may not even recognize as being related to your hearing. Once these interview stages are complete then the tests begin. 

Steps of a Hearing Test 

Hearing tests happen in near-silent rooms, specially treated to keep out any background noises that may skew the results, such as vents or traffic. You will wear headphones connected to an audiometer, the instrument used to conduct the test. 

The test begins with the pure-tone audiometry section. You will listen closely to tones at different pitches and volumes and answer the hearing health professional’s questions. This portion of the test identifies the softest volume at which you can still hear specific frequencies. 

Next is the speech audiometry section, in which you will listen to recorded speech instead of tones. This section of the test identifies the lowest volumes at which you can hear speech and then raises in volume asking you to repeat phrases that you hear. This measures the accuracy and thresholds of your hearing. 

Most likely one of a variety of similar tests will then measure how clearly you can focus when faced with distracting background noise. Difficulty hearing in loud public spaces is one of the most common complaints of those who suffer from hearing loss, so these test assess your real-world capabilities. 

A tympanometry test may be necessary to gauge the reflexes of your ear drum and middle ear muscles. This may effect the treatment option that will best suit you. Similarly, you may be tested for “hidden” hearing loss. This refers to hearing loss that is not a consequence of damage to the ear, but the brain. 

Understanding The Results Of Your Hearing Test 

Your test results will be shared with you on an audiogram, a graph that charts your ability to hear at different frequencies. The vertical axis is the volumes and the horizontal axis is the frequencies. These are measured in decibels (dB), each ear with its own unique results, which are just as likely to correspond closely to each other as not. 

Categories of hearing loss are defined according to the following measurements. 

  • 0-25 bB HL (hearing loss) = normal
  • 26-40 dB HL = mild
  • 41-70 dB HL = moderate
  • 71-90 dB HL = severe
  • More than 91 dB HL = profound

After Your Hearing Test 

With your hearing test complete, your hearing health professional can make informed recommendations for your necessary treatment. New technologies spring up regularly and even the most basic hearing aids today are more impactful than the highest end hearing aids available in the past. There are many variations to suit your unique needs, your lifestyle and preferences, and your budget. Given how common disabling hearing loss is and the potential consequences of not treating it, there is no excuse to not take immediate action. Make an appointment with one of our specialists today to guarantee that you are enjoying the greatest quality of life you can, now and into the future.