Hearing tests – What to Expect

What is involved in a hearing test?

Your audiologist will first take a history about your hearing and medical health to gauge whether there might be cause or risk for hearing loss. There are many different types of things that may cause or put you at risk for a hearing loss such as a history of middle ear infections, family history hearing loss, exposure to loud noises, some medications, head injuries/trauma to ears etc.

Your audiologist will also ask you about any symptoms you may have that may affect your ears or your hearing such as ringing or noises in the ears, dizziness or vertigo, pain and pressure in or around the ears etc.

Finally, the audiologist will ask you how your symptoms or hearing may be affecting you on a daily basis. For example, does ringing in the ears keep you up at night? Do you find it difficult to hear in restaurants?

We will then perform an examination of your ear canals to make sure there is no wax blockage and to examine the health of your ear drums and ear canal. At this point, the audiologist will also perform a test called Tympanometry, which will check the function of your middle ears. This is a non-invasive test that feels like a bit of pressure change in the ears and only lasts a few seconds. You may also hear some loud beeps, which will test your acoustic reflex pathway.

Next is the hearing test, which is called Pure Tone Audiometry. You will be asked to wear some headphones or earphones and listen to beeps or whistles at different pitches and volumes. When you detect a beep/whistle, you will be asked to press a button to indicate that you have heard it. The aim is to determine the softest sound you can hear at each pitch.

Speech Audiometry is usually the last part involved in a hearing test. During this test you will hear a person saying a list of words and you will be asked to repeat those words back to the audiologist. The aim here is to establish the softest level you are able to hear and understand those words correctly. This part of the test helps to determine the validity of the audiogram (hearing test graph), whether there might be concerns with the perception of sounds, and if you may benefit from amplification (hearing aids or assistive devices).

This normally takes 20-30 minutes. At the end of the hearing test, the audiologist will spend some time explaining your results to you and whether any further follow up or referral is required.

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