If you have never done a hearing test before, you may find yourself asking questions like:
- What really happens during a hearing test?
- What are they going to ask me?
- Do I have to wear headphones? And so on.
These questions are understandable as a lot of people ask them too.
Before we go into a full detail about hearing tests, let’s look at a quick and simple definition of hearing tests.
Hearing tests are tests carried out to examine your ability to hear different sounds and to determine if there are any problems.
This blog post is aimed at helping you to understand everything you need to know about hearing tests.
Let us now address what a hearing test actually is
When you visit an audiologist, a hearing test will be done, which involves a couple of surveys, audiometric tests, pure audiometer testing and speech testing. This will also include some digging into your background information.
There are other tests which are included along the ones mentioned above, like: Tympanometry and Otoscopy. A Tympanogram test is done to test the condition of the middle ear and mobility of the eardrum, while an Otoscopy is done when an audiologist physically examines your ear canal eardrum.
By looking into your ears, your audiologist can tell if your hearing loss is as a result of something like liquid in your ears or over-buildup of earwax.
Your hearing is just like your fingerprint; it is unique to you. However, unlike a fingerprint, it changes as you grow older, based on your life experiences.
For instance, if you spend more time in loud environments, you will lose part of hearing over time. A lifetime exposure to this noisy environment gives rise to a unique curve of damage to your hearing system.
A patient’s background questionnaire will collect some information and give the audiologist an idea of how your hearing may be affected.
Audiometric testing uses pure tones played at different decibel levels directly into your ears. The result of his test gives your provider specific information as to the type of sounds and frequencies you have lost the most in hearing to.
The Speech Banana Chart
This is a very powerful tool used by audiologists for showing where the sounds you use in your everyday speech occur on a chart.
The parts of speech that are most often used are known as ‘Phonemes’; and include “ng”, “th”, or “s” as well as every other sound.
When mapped out on a chart, the phonemes form a banana-like shape. Hence, the phrase ‘Speech Banana’ was coined.
The speech banana chart shows the commonly used sounds in everyday speech, which have a high frequency.
When undergoing this test, you will be asked to say words containing some of these letters like: “f”, “ng”, “th”, “s”, etc. to find out if you have a high frequency hearing loss.
Hearing loss may come slowly, over time, you may not even realize it’s happening and for some people, it can happen very quickly, often due to situations like infections, inner ear problems and traumatic or extremely loud experiences.
Stereocilia are those micro hairs found in the inner part of the ear that vibrate and send information to your nervous system.
Over a period of time, after exposure to noise, these stereocilia die or break off, and your ear loses its ability to send signals to the auditory nerve.
Hearing aids are therefore programmed to send amplified signals to the remaining stereocilia in your ear such that the signals are easily interpreted by your nervous system.
It is advisable to seek immediate treatment at the first symptom of a hearing loss and to go for regular medical checkups to get your hearing tested.
This is to make sure that you are not letting your auditory to die off. As you can see, getting your hearing tested is not a painful procedure and it is not difficult. It is just a couple steps and tests, and usually takes roughly one hour.