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What to expect at your hearing test

Ear Exam

Getting your hearing tested is a new experience for many people. When you don't know what to expect, you can feel reluctant or nervous about attending an appointment. However, getting your hearing tested is nothing to worry about, and it's an important thing to do for people of all ages. People over the age of 50, in particular, should have their hearing tested regularly. When you have a hearing evaluation, it involves several different tests. Each test is designed to check a different part of your hearing, with some tests being objective and evaluating how your ears function and others relying more on your subjective perception of sound.

Medical history and consultation

Your hearing evaluation will often begin with a talk with an audiologist. You can discuss your medical history and whether you are taking any medications, which might have an impact on your hearing. Your audiologist will talk to you about your lifestyle and anything that might affect your hearing, such as your job or hobbies. You can also ask any questions that you might have, whether they are about your hearing evaluation or anything else that relates to your hearing. You can discuss whether you have noticed any symptoms of hearing loss or if there's anything that you're worried about.

Physical examination

An otoscopy is the physical examination of the outer ear, ear canal and eardrum. The audiologist will use an otoscope to look into your ear with a light and look for any signs of damage. They can check if there might be anything that could cause temporary hearing loss symptoms, such as excess earwax or an infection, which could be treated easily.

Pure tone testing

Pure tone testing involves playing sounds into the ear to determine what you can hear. You will have headphones or earbuds that play sounds into your ear at different frequencies and volumes. You will be asked to indicate when you hear a sound, sometimes by pressing a button or simply by raising your hand. The results for each ear are plotted on a graph to show the upper and lower limits of your hearing ability. The test will check both low and high frequencies to provide a full picture of your hearing and whether you might have any hearing loss.

Bone conduction testing

Bone conduction testing is similar to pure tone testing, but the method used to play the sounds is different. Instead of using earbuds or headphones to play sounds, you instead wear a device that sends sound through the bone behind your ear instead. The bone conduction test helps to check for another particular cause of hearing loss if there is one present.

Middle ear testing

Testing the middle ear checks the health of the important ear muscles and the eardrum. To test the eardrum, air pressure is used to see how it responds. It helps to pick up on whether there is any fluid behind your eardrum. A probe is also used to play a sound to see how the muscles in the ear respond to sudden sounds. This small muscle in the ear protects against sudden loud noises by contracting when necessary.

Speech testing

Hearing evaluations also involve testing how well you can understand speech. When testing this, your audiologist will often test your understanding of speech both in quiet environments and in noisy environments. This is because you can understand speech a lot better when it's quiet, but struggle to follow conversations when there is more background noise. To test your understanding of speech, a speech reception threshold is used in addition to pure tone testing. It finds the lowest level of sound where you can hear words or speech.

Test results

After your hearing test, your audiologist will go over your test results with you. You will have a graph called an audiogram, which plots the results of the tone tests and shows the upper and lower limits of your hearing. You will discuss what your results mean, whether you have any hearing loss and if you could benefit from hearing aids.

Be sure to leave enough time for your hearing test when you book your appointment. Contact Hearing Health Care to schedule your hearing test. Call us in Myrtle Beach (843-497-6156) or Conway (843-488-2717).