A thorough hearing test is the first step in determining if you do in fact have hearing loss. The hearing test results also allow the hearing professional to recommend the best treatment if you do in fact have hearing loss.
A hearing test is a quick, painless and non-invasive test performed by an audiologist or hearing aid dispenser. The test begins with a thorough case history, which provides the hearing professional with specific health information that may provide insight into hearing loss causes and will assist them in determining which tests should be performed.
Following the case history, the hearing professional will examine your ear canals and eardrums with a special light called an otoscope. Next, the levels of hearing in each of your ears are measured in a sound-treated test booth. During this test, a series of tones of different pitches, as well as speech signals are presented to each ear through headphones. You will be asked to respond to the signals by either pushing a button, raising your hand or in the case of speech signals, repeating what you heard. You will be asked to respond to the lowest level that you can hear which determines your hearing thresholds. Thresholds for each pitch and ear are plotted on a graph called an audiogram.
Further tests may be conducted during the hearing test. Your ability to understand words or sentences at different volume levels may be assessed to determine how clearly you hear speech. Your middle ear function may also be assessed by a test called tympanometry.
Following the tests, the hearing professional will discuss the results with you and may provide further recommendations, including treatment options, like hearing aids.
If you suspect you have hearing loss it is important to have your hearing tested as soon as possible. The use-it or lose-it principle does apply to our hearing; the sooner you treat hearing loss, the better the outcome of treatment.
Visit Healthy Hearing's Find a Hearing Professional section to have your hearing tested at a hearing clinic near you.