What to Expect at a Hearing Test

Hearing tests are essential for understanding your hearing abilities and maintaining your hearing health. It is recommended that people aged 50 and older take an annual hearing test so that any issues can be identified and treated quickly. Both professional audiologists and hearing instrument specialists will be able to accurately assess the degree of your hearing loss and recommend treatment options. Here at Hear Now, we proudly have both on our team to ensure comprehensive care.

What Happens During the Test?

An evaluation is typically made up of 5 steps. Initially our specialist will discuss any questions, symptoms, or concerns you may have. Next your ears will be inspected to check for any obstructions visible in the ear canal. At this point the specialist will ask you to listen for various tones to identify the softest sounds you can hear.  We will then evaluate your ability to understand speech. Finally, we will review the results of the evaluation.

  • Health History: We will ask questions about your medical history and lifestyle needs: your past and current medications, medical conditions, level of exposure to noise, hobbies, and environments where you struggle with hearing most. These questions are very similar to the ones you often encounter on questionnaires you fill out before other medical appointments. Our team can use this information as a guideline to gauge your performance in the following stages of the exam.
  • Otoscopy: Otoscopy is simply a physical examination of your outer and middle ear, using an otoscope. This probe emits a beam of light from its tip and can identify blockages or obstructions, such as earwax buildup, pooled fluids, foreign objects, and other physical anomalies. We will also inspect the eardrums to identify any evidence of scars or perforations.
  • Tympanometry: During the tympanometry test, we will use a tympanometer probe to measure the elasticity of the eardrums by changing the pressure inside the ear canal and recording the eardrum's responses to sound. The information is used to create a tympanogram, which is basically a line graph that shows how the admittance value or eardrum reaction changes with the pressure.
  • Speech Testing: To determine your capacity to comprehend speech, an assessment is done in a soundproof chamber with headphones. It consists of two components which are known as the Speech Recognition Threshold (SRT) test and the Word Recognition Test (WRT). During the SRT test, the volume of words played through the headphones is slowly decreased until you can only identify 50% of the words correctly. During the WRT, your ability to identify words played at normalized sound levels is evaluated. Results from these two tests will help your audiologist predict the effectiveness of various treatment options.
  • Air and Bone Conduction Testing: Air and bone conduction tests are used to determine the source of your hearing loss. In the air conduction test, you wear headphones through which different tones and frequencies are played, while in the bone conduction test, a headband containing a plastic vibrating unit is worn with the unit resting against the lower back area of the ear to stimulate the auditory nerve directly. The results of the tests will show whether your hearing loss is due to underlying physical conditions or if it is caused by damage to the auditory nerve.

Why It's Important

Hearing tests can help diagnose existing problems with your ears or detect early signs of hearing impairment and is especially important for older adults who are at greater risk due to age-related hearing loss. Even if you don't think your hearing is impaired, it's still a good idea to get regular check-ups as part of a comprehensive physical exam, as even small changes in your ability to hear can have lasting effects on your overall health and quality of life.

Reviewing Your Results

Once a case history and evaluation have been completed, we can properly assess the degree and type of hearing loss, if any. This information allows us to help you make an informed decision on how best to approach a solution to your unique hearing health needs.

Overall, hearing tests are quick and painless procedures - lasting anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour - that provide valuable insight into your overall hearing health. Knowing what to expect before going in for one can help ease some anxiety about undergoing such an exam, so make sure to familiarize yourself with the process beforehand!

If you suspect your hearing health has changed, contact us today!

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