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How does an audiologist conduct a hearing test?

Author: Sound Advice Hearing Doctors
Reviewer: Lindsay Hobbs, AuD
– 4 minute read

If you have concerns about hearing loss, it’s important to have your hearing checked by a professional. Depending on the location, you may see either an audiologist or a hearing instrument specialist when visiting Sound Advice. Our offices offer comprehensive hearing assessments that are designed to check for hearing loss and other issues with your ears.

The types of hearing tests an audiologist conducts will depend on your history and which symptoms are experiencing. Some parts of the evaluation are standard, but with the right hearing professional, every appointment varies to ensure personalized, compassionate hearing care.

Since there are many types of hearing loss, and damage can occur in different regions of the ear, each patient may have slightly different tests during their session. Upon intake at our clinic, your audiologist or hearing care provider will look at your medical history and evaluate whether there is concern about genetic hearing conditions, or preexisting conditions that can worsen hearing(such as high blood pressure or diabetes). After a conversation with you to determine how your ate your own hearing, your audiologist will determine the tests necessary for your case and get started.

What Do Audiologists Test For?

Hearing tests help evaluate the overall health of your ears and their ability to pick up on and process sound. Hearing function is split into two parts: pitch, and volume. Volume is measured in decibels, and pitch in hertz. By evaluating how you can process pitch and volume, you’ll have an accurate benchmark of your hearing health, will be able to track if it declines over time, and whether you need to put protective or corrective measures in place to enhance your hearing health.

Different Types of Hearing Tests

Hearing tests are generally comfortable and noninvasive.

  • Otoscopy: Most audiologists begin testing with an otoscopy exam, which examines your ear canal and ear drum. It allows the audiologist to see if you have wax buildup or debris in the canal. It can also show signs of infection. It’s useful to see if there is a foreign object in the ear canal.
  • Speech recognition: Speech tests are common in audiology clinics. This may include listening to a sound trackand repeating the given words.This test can be completed with and without additional background noise.

A patient may also have “familiar voice testing” where a person brings someone who is close to them (like a spouse) to a testing. The guest is then asked to read words which the patient needs to repeat. Familiar voice testing is especially useful in situations where a patient speaks another language at home.

  • Audiometry Testing: Your hearing care provider uses an audiometer to map your hearing, creating an audiogram which identifies the softest level of hearing at multiple frequencies. This test is carried out by placing headphones on your head and having you click a button when you hear the sounds played.
  • Eardrum testing: Your audiologist may perform a tympanometry test, which places light pressure on the eardrum (also called the tympanic membrane) to gauge its response and help predict middle ear function. This may be combined with an acoustic reflex test which assesses if your eardrum is protecting you sufficiently from loud noise.

What happens after the hearing tests are over?

After testing is completed, your audiologist will review the results of your tests and discuss your results with you.

Depending on your results, your audiologist may recommend hearing devices or intervention to enhance your hearing experience and perform demonstrations on their recommendations.

Through collaborative conversation with your provider, you will be able to determine the best option for your budget, lifestyle, and hearing needs.

In rare cases, audiologists may be concerned over obstructions discovered in your ear canal and refer you to a doctor who specializes in the appropriate corresponding medicine. If your audiologist is concerned, a referral may be made.

With the right care team, hearing testing doesn’t have to make you nervous. Our team of compassionate experts are here to support you every step of the way. If you’re ready to take control of your hearing health, schedule your first appointment today. We’re excited to join you on your hearing health journey.