If you found this article while doing an internet search for hearing loss, chances are you are concerned that you or someone you love may have hearing loss. The only way to know for sure is to have a hearing screening or hearing test. That’s the only effective way to evaluate hearing loss.

Hearing screenings

Hearing screenings determine if you need a complete set of hearing tests by an audiologist. This is a pass or fail type of test. If you don’t pass the screening, you are referred to an audiologist for hearing tests.

  • Children: Children are generally screened in their pediatrician’s office or at their school. This screening uses a pure-tone test. The child wears headphones during the test and signals as directed in response to sounds.
  • Adults: Adults may have a hearing screening at a community health fair or as part of a wellness exam in the doctor’s office. The pure-tone test is the test most commonly used. There are also online hearing screenings, but they are not as reliable as screening in person.

Hearing tests

A hearing test is a complete hearing evaluation performed by a licensed and certified audiologist. An audiologist is a medical professional that specializes in hearing and balance. The audiologist will use several tests to determine the degree of hearing loss, whether it involves one or both ears and recommend treatment options and adaptations.

  • Physical Examination: First, the audiologist will use an instrument called an otoscope to examine your ears for any obstruction that could cause hearing loss. They will also ask about any history of ear infections or injuries.
  • Tympanometry: After looking in the ears, the audiologist will test the function of the middle ear. A small bit of air is blown into the ear canal to vibrate the eardrum. Tympanometry detects fluid in the ear, wax build-up, a perforation in the eardrum or other problems with the middle ear.
  • Pure-tone testing: This is the portion of the hearing test that most people associate with audiologists. You will be asked to respond to sounds that are delivered via headphones. The audiologist will be testing pitch and tone to determine your hearing thresholds. The results will be charted on an audiogram.
  • Speech recognition threshold: If the pure tone test indicates hearing loss, this test will be performed to confirm the results. It is used to determine the faintest level of speech that can be heard half of the time. This test is done with and without background noise to determine the effect of environmental noise on hearing.
  • Acoustic reflex measure: Audiologists perform this test of the middle ear function to determine the location of the hearing loss. It evaluates the level of sound necessary for a muscle in the middle ear to contract.
  • Static acoustic impedance: This test measures the volume of air in the ear canal and is used to help identify damage to the middle ear.

If you think that you or a loved one is living with hearing loss, call an audiologist and make an appointment for a hearing test today. It is non-invasive and painless.