You may be wondering what will happen during your first full hearing examination. This article will provide you with a brief outline of standard procedures for hearing test consultations, so that you can attend your appointment feeling prepared. You have nothing to worry about, all tests are non-invasive and painless. Never the less, it’s nice to know what to expect.
Your hearing test appointment will normally begin with a consultation with your audiologist. This is usually very relaxed and informal, you can expect to be asked questions about your medical history and any concerns you may have regarding your hearing. During this consultation, your audiologist will look into your ears using an otoscope to check for obvious problems such as infection or blockages, which may be effecting your ability to hear.
Following this initial examination, a series of tests will be conducted. These are designed to evaluate; whether or not you have hearing loss, the level of your hearing loss (mild, moderate or severe), the balance of your hearing loss (one or both ears), the possible cause of your hearing loss and the best treatment options for you. Here are some common testing methods you can expect:
- Pure-tone testing: Pure tone testing is usually the next step if you have not recently had a hearing check. This test is conducted in a sound-proof room and you will be asked to wear headphones. The test administrator will play a variety of sounds that vary in frequency and volume into each of your ears; you will be asked to signal to the administrator when you hear a sound, by pressing a button or raising your hand. The results will be recorded on an audiogram, providing a detailed assessment of which sound frequencies are within your hearing range and what level of hearing you have in each ear.
- Speech testing: This type of test is sometimes performed to clarify the results of the pure tone test. The audiologist uses a speech reception threshold (SRT), to determine the faintest volume at which speech can be understood, this is also recorded with an audiogram. Speech testing is sometimes performed against background noise, as it is designed to mimic real-life hearing challenges.
- Middle-ear tests: These quick and simple tests are usually the next step once it has been established that you are suffering with hearing loss. This will usually begin with a tympanometry, a test which involves stimulating the ear drum by pushing air into your ear. It is designed to check that your ear drums are functioning correctly and to rule out the possibility of any blockages contributing to your hearing loss.
Your audiologist will now go over your test results with you. Depending on the type, level and suspected cause of your hearing loss, it may be possible to recommend treatments. If you hearing loss is not the result of age, injury or obvious illness, your audiologist may wish to schedule more specific tests to determine likely causes and therefore the most appropriate treatment action.