The Importance of Hearing Tests, Part 3

The first step is deciding to get a hearing test. The next is the hearing test itself. The past couple weeks we’ve been talking about education. This week we’re breaking down a common audiometric assessment. For people to feel comfortable enough to get their hearing tested, its important for them to first know what’s involved.

Before

Once you go through the referral and appointment steps (see a previous blog we wrote for info), you’ll find yourself at your audiologist’s office. Here (or at home) you’ll complete a medical history form. After you are called back to see the doctor, you should then feel free to ask any questions. We recommend bringing a list. Always remember – there’s no question or concern too small.

Then the audiologist will ask some questions. Where do you have the most hearing difficulty? Where is speech in noise the most incomprehensible? Where do you feel most comfortable?

REM recommends bringing a significant other or friend along for the test. They can serve as another set of ears and sometimes provide insights to questions you may not be able to answer.

After you both discuss your particular situation, it’ll then be time for the test.

The Hearing Test

  1. Your ear canals will first be inspected for impacted earwax.
  2. The audiologist will then either place over the ear earphones or insert earphones in your ears while you are seated in an enclosed, sound attenuating booth.
  3. He or she will instruct you repeat back two syllable words, and then instruct you to signal when you hear a variety of pure tone frequencies. These help determine your hearing thresholds.
  4. You’ll then be asked to repeat monosyllabic words at comfortable intensity levels. This helps determine speech comprehension at quiet conversational levels.
  5. The audiologist will then repeat the process of having you respond to pure tone frequencies with a behind the ear receiver. Comparing results of this test with the results of the previous tests will determine the type of hearing loss you have (middle ear, inner ear, or both).
  6. Finally, you’ll be instructed to repeat back sentences presented at comfortably loud intensity levels while background noise is present. This determines your signal to noise ratio (i.e., how much louder speech needs to be to background noise in order for you to understand at least 50% of the message).

After

Easy, right? Now the audiologist will discuss your results. If you have a hearing loss, they’ll often offer recommendations including medical management and/or hearing aids or other assistive listening devices. The audiologist can even let you know if you qualify for government funds that would help pay for devices such as closed captioning telephones.

We hope this helps. A hearing test is nothing to be concerned about, and a relationship with your audiologist can be incredibly beneficial. Consider them your “go to” person regarding your hearing health.

Don’t forget to check out Part 1 (why some people are hesitant to get their hearing tested) and Part 2 (how to spread the word).