There are several components to a baseline hearing test that are all used to determine how a person’s hearing health has gotten over the years. These tests can often determine the source of the trouble and can lead audiologists towards the best way to remedy the situation.
It is recommended that people book a baseline hearing screening around the age of 50, unless they are showing symptoms of hearing loss earlier than this. Hearing tests are pain-free and non-invasive, but there are some things that are nice to know before going into one.
Here’s what to expect when you show up for your hearing test appointment:
Lifestyle Assessment and Medical History
If it’s your first time seeing a hearing health professional, be prepared to answer several questions about your lifestyle and medical history. Don’t worry, they won’t get too personal! They are just trying to get a feel for what your general concerns are by noting your family’s health history and establishing your case history.
In particular, your hearing care professional needs to know if:
- You’re recovering from a cold or ear/sinus infection
- You spend a lot of time around industrial noises
- You’re in pain
- You’re taking prescription medicine or antibiotics
After a brief chat about your lifestyle, the hearing care professional will take a look inside your ears, both the canals and the drums, using a light called an otoscope. This is done to rule out anything that could affect the outcome of the hearing tests that are about to commence, such as an infection, a perforated ear drum, or an earwax buildup.
It’s now time for the main event! During a pure-tone test, hearing health professionals are looking to find out the faintest tones you can hear at certain frequencies (from high to low). Think of that old-school eye chart with the ‘E’ on top of the pyramid. The top letter is always easy to see, right? But keep going and the answers certainly become more difficult. However, at no point are the tones going to inflict pain.
For the pure-tone test, a person sits in a quiet room or sound booth wearing sound-blocking headphones that play sounds to test the quality of hearing in each ear one at a time. You’ll be instructed to make a particular signal to the practitioners, indicating you have heard the sound.
During the speech test, you are asked to recite words played or spoken at different volumes. The practitioner will take note of the faintest speech you can hear at least half the time, record any problems you have with word recognition, and analyze your ability to correctly repeat words back to them at a reasonable auditory level.
Speech testing can be viewed as the most practical portion of a hearing test, as doctors are examining how well you interact with another person. It is often done in a noisier environment than the soundproof booth to simulate real-life situations.
Bone Conduction Test
This sounds a lot more intense than it actually is. During this type of routine hearing test, the hearing care professional is assessing your inner ear's hearing health, but is bypassing both the outer and middle ear. The bone conduction testing procedure is much like the pure-tone test, but instead of through headphones, a device placed strategically behind the ear is used to play the sounds. Your reactions to each tone during the test give hearing care professionals a broader picture of what is going on with your hearing.
The results of each of your routine hearing tests are compiled onto a line graph or chart called an audiogram, which provides a visual of what ranges you're hearing normally, and what ranges you’re missing. Your hearing health practitioner will go over the results with you in layman’s terms to give you a sense of your trouble zones, which will help you see your limitations and how they can be remedied.
Online Hearing Tests
If you can’t make it in to see a hearing health professional, but suspect you’re having difficulty hearing, you can get a feel for how well your ears are working by taking an online hearing test.
Online hearing tests cannot substitute for a real hearing test by a hearing care professional for two reasons:
- They won’t be able to determine where or why the loss is occurring.
- The playback sound quality will vary depending on the quality of your device’s speakers or headphones.
If the results of your hearing tests show you are experiencing some level of hearing loss, the next step is to go over your options with a hearing health professional. In a lot of cases, hearing aids are the recommended next course of action.
The good news is that today’s hearing aids are so small and comfortable that living with them is no longer the burden it once was. Some digital models, such as the Beltone Legend™, can even be synced and controlled using an app on your smartphone!
Find more information about Beltone Hearing Aids on the Beltone website, or click here to request an informative print package.
Now that you know a little bit more about what to expect during a routine hearing test, you’re ready to book an appointment with confidence. There really is nothing to fear! Book your hearing test with a Beltone hearing care professional today by using our Request an Appointment form, or simply give us a call at 1-800-235-8663!