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What are the Most Common Hearing Tests Conducted?
As you age, your hearing gradually declines. A visit to hearing health professionals is a great way to check your hearing and find out what you can do about it. So, here are four of the most common hearing tests hearing health professionals will administer during a typical appointment.
Bone Conduction Testing
There are many different hearing tests a hearing health professional may perform, but bone conduction testing is one that you'll likely see at every appointment. It's often the first test administered because it bypasses any potential blockages in your ear canal to determine what type of hearing loss you have and if there has been nerve interruption resulting from a head injury. They will ask you to cover your ears with the palms of your hands and then play various tones at different volumes to assess the conduction of sound through bones rather than air.
The hearing health professional will also perform an air conduction test to compare the two. If you experience hearing loss, you should hear sound louder when conducted through your ear canal than with bone conduction testing.
The tympanometry test measures the condition of your eardrum and middle ear. Hearing health professionals place a small probe in one or both ears to measure air pressure changes that help identify blockages in the ear canal to perform tympanometry. This measurement can help diagnose conditions such as wax buildup and middle ear infections.
Picking up the sounds of a voice in your ear is one thing, but how do you hear it? Pure tone testing examines how well different frequencies sound. A pure-tone test will measure:
- How much noise there is when no other sound is playing.
- The volume at which the noise sounds.
- How well you can hear high-pitched noises versus low-pitched noises.
Pure-tone testing can also assess the sounds of a tuning fork and how well you hear it versus your other ear. This can help identify which side is causing hearing loss, if any or whether there are problems with both ears that need addressing separately.
A speech audiogram is a hearing test that measures the ability of an individual to understand and use language. This involves evaluating all aspects related to how the ear interprets sound waves and processing the brain’s sound. A patient's performance on this type of assessment will provide helpful information about their auditory processing and language skills.
To determine the severity of hearing loss, the hearing health professionals will administer an audiogram at different frequencies: 250 Hz, 500 Hz and 2000 Hz. In this case, a speech discrimination score can be calculated based on how well the patient could hear certain sounds in these three frequency ranges. Another test, the speech in noise test, will measure an individual's ability to understand speech in a noisy environment.
Hearing loss is a complicated condition, but it may not be as challenging to understand as you think. However, knowing what the different hearing tests entail and how they can help you will make your appointment less stressful.