Hearing often worsens gradually over time, making it difficult for those suffering from hearing loss to detect it. While many Americans get annual vision exams, people often reach their 60s and even 70s without ever having their hearing examined.
Hearing exams are fast, easy and painless—but they’re also very important.
If you’re concerned about your own hearing abilities or those of a loved one, you should schedule a hearing exam right away. Infants and babies often go years without a hearing loss diagnosis, which can majorly limit their communication, speech and social abilities. Additionally, anyone over 50 years old should get an annual hearing exam, as hearing loss is common amongst older generations. The sooner hearing loss is identified, the more effective treatment will be.
What to Expect at a Hearing Exam
There are many ways to test hearing, and your audiologist will determine the best type or types of testing for your needs. The results of these hearing tests are recorded on an audiogram, which your doctor will use to provide a diagnosis and treatment plan. Five of the most coming hearing tests are:
- Uses air pressure changes to measure movement of eardrum
- Examines how you respond to different sounds and pressures
- Detects problems like impacted earwax, excess fluid, perforated eardrums and tumors
Bone Conduction Test
- Uses turning forks to send sound directly to your inner ear
- Determines whether hearing loss is conductive (related to the outer or middle ear) or sensorineural (related to the inner ear)
- Commonly used to detect infections and other problems in children
Acoustic Reflex Test
- Exposes your middle ear to sound in order to measure involuntary muscle contractions
- Reveals problems with ossicles (middle ear bones), cochlea (inner ear tube), brainstem and auditory or facial nerves
Word Recognition Test
- Determines your ability to separate foreground and background noise
- Utilizes speech at varying volumes to measure hearing abilities in various settings
- Determines how well hearing aids will treat your hearing loss
Pure Tone Audiometry Test
- Measures your hearing range in each ear individually
- Makes subjects identify tones at different frequencies and volumes through headphones
- Often used to diagnose hearing problems in young children