How Do Audiologists Test Your Hearing?
Have you been referred by a doctor for a hearing test or just want to know how your hearing is?
It’s normal to feel nervous before your hearing test, as you don’t know what to expect. So, today we’re here to ease your nerves by explaining what you can expect when getting a hearing test.
The most accurate way to test your hearing is by visiting an Audiologist for a full comprehensive hearing test.
What is An Audiologist & What Do They Do?
An Audiologist is a health professional who diagnoses and rehabilitates hearing and balance issues in adults and children.
Below are the types of things Audiologists do:
- Perform diagnostic hearing tests
- Perform balance assessments
- Perform tinnitus assessments
- Provide rehabilitation for hearing loss, balance problems and tinnitus
- Prescribe and fit hearing aids (air and bone-anchored)
- Fit implantable hearing devices (e.g. cochlear implants, bone-anchored hearing aids and middle ear implants)
- Fit assistive listening devices
- Fit custom earplugs
- Perform hearing aid repairs
- Perform earwax removal
- Provide counselling and communication tactics and strategies
Online Hearing Tests
There are many online hearing tests available, which people can do in the comfort of their homes.
Some online hearing tests are surveys that ask you questions to screen your hearing and determine if you need to go for a physical hearing test. Other online hearing tests may present tones or speech through earphones or speakers to measure your hearing and provide you with a pass or fail result.
Online tests are not accurate, and the reason for this is that the online option does not calibrate your headphones against the Australian Standards. Also, the device used to conduct the test online is not a calibrated diagnostic Audiometer.
Accuracy of online hearing tests
Although online hearing tests are convenient, not all are accurate. Online hearing tests are not performed under controlled conditions, such as in soundproof rooms/booths using calibrated equipment, limiting their accuracy.
Also, online hearing tests do not determine the type and degree of hearing loss and possible causes. They can give you a result but won’t explain it.
Some people choose to have a hearing screen rather than a full diagnostic hearing test.
A hearing screening includes an otoscopy, where your Audiologist will look in your ears with an otoscope to determine the health of the ear canal and eardrum.
They will then perform a quick screening of your hearing by determining your air conduction thresholds (via headphones or earphones). During this, you will be presented with tones of varying pitch to determine your hearing thresholds or the softest sounds you can hear.
If your Audiologist determines that you have a hearing loss, they will recommend you return for a full diagnostic hearing test to determine the type, degree and potential cause of your hearing loss.
Diagnostic Hearing Assessment
A diagnostic hearing test usually takes around 30-minutes and is a comprehensive test of your hearing and ear health.
The assessment includes the following:
Your Audiologist will ask you questions and discuss your ear and hearing health and history to understand your concerns and problems you are experiencing.
For example, they will ask you about hearing difficulty, any noises in your ears (tinnitus) and if you are experiencing any dizziness.
Your Audiologist will check your ear canals and eardrums using an otoscope to identify problems, such as ear infections or fluid behind the eardrum.
Tympanometry and acoustic reflex testing
Your Audiologist will check your middle ear function by placing a small rubber probe tip in your ear canal. You will feel a change in pressure as they vary the pressure levels and take measurements.
You will then also hear some loud beeps as they measure the contraction of a muscle in your middle ear.
Otoacoustic immittance testing
Your Audiologist may also check the function of the outer hair cells of the cochlea. They will place a small rubber probe tip in your ear canal and play a sound into your ear to measure the response back from the cochlea.
Pure tone audiometry
Pure tone audiometry is a test of the softest sounds that you can hear, your hearing thresholds, and is performed in a soundproof booth or room.
During this test, you will be presented with tones via air conduction and bone conduction. The tone will vary in frequency/pitch and decibel level/volume. You will be asked to respond every time you hear a tone by pressing a button.
During the speech test, you will be presented with recorded lists of short words through headphones, earphones or live speech.
You will be asked to repeat whatever you hear and take a guess if you aren’t sure.
Your Audiologist will present the words at different levels to evaluate your speech discrimination.
Explanation of results & recommendations
After your comprehensive hearing test, your Audiologist will explain the results to you and make appropriate recommendations based on the available information.
Recommendations may include:
- Hearing aids
- Further medical investigation
If you have an aidable hearing loss and would like to discuss hearing aids, your Audiologist will do this with you.
While the thought of a hearing test may be daunting, it’s a painless experience.
If you have recently had a hearing test and have been recommended hearing aids, EarDeals has got you covered.