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How Does an Audiologist Conduct a Hearing Test?

an audiologist is reviewing a patient's audiogram

If you're concerned that you may have hearing loss, and you're ready to do something about it, it might be time to schedule an appointment with an audiologist to get a hearing test. If you don't know what to expect, let's explain what your appointment with an audiologist will consist of. 

What is an audiologist?

An audiologist is a highly trained individual who will diagnose, evaluate and treat hearing-related issues such as tinnitus. A typical appointment will consist of the following:

The hearing health history

Upon your visit with an audiologist, they will want to understand your medical history and hearing health as well as find out any concerns you may have. Because there are a wide variety of reasons, we experience hearing loss, getting a thorough understanding of your background will give the audiologist a complete picture of your hearing health. 

If you have any questions or would like additional support you may want to take a family member or close friend. The best thing to do before the appointment is to compile a list of any symptoms you may have had recently, even if you don't think they relate to your hearing. Once the hearing health history portion is complete, they will conduct the hearing test.

The hearing test

The hearing test is a painless and non-invasive procedure. You sit in a quiet booth and are asked to wear headphones or earplugs that are connected to an audiometer and the audiologist will begin the test. The hearing test typically consists of three different parts:

Pure-tone audiometry

This part of the test requires listening to tones in different pitches and volumes. This test requires you to focus all your attention. The purpose is to measure the very softest sounds you can hear, so even if there is a tone you can barely hear you still need to respond to it by pressing a button or responding audibly.

Speech audiometry

This portion of the hearing test uses live or recorded speech instead of tones. The purpose of this test is to evaluate the threshold of your hearing. By evaluating where you are most comfortable in your listening in comparison to its upper limits, it presents a good overall picture of your hearing thresholds in real life. Upon hearing words played or spoken to you, you are asked to repeat them back at a level above your threshold to see how well you can understand them.

Tympanometry

This is an extra test the audiologist may perform. The purpose of this test is to examine your acoustic reflexes by placing a soft plug inside your ear. As the plug creates pressure changes and generates sounds into your ear this tests the reflexive responses of the muscles in the middle ear and how well your eardrum is moving.

Getting the results

Once the tests are completed, the results are presented on an audiogram which is a graph with plots. The results are plotted in decibels of hearing threshold level (dB), and the horizontal axis shows the frequency or the pitch of the sounds, while the vertical axis represents the volume or intensity of the sounds. You will see on the audiogram two different lines plotted. Each line represents one ear and the hearing loss portion is measured in the following categories:

  • Normal hearing is between zero and 25 dB.
  • Mild hearing loss is between 26-40 dB.
  • Moderate hearing loss is between 41-70 dB.
  • Severe hearing loss is between 71-90 dB.
  • Profound hearing loss is greater than 91 dB.

Once the audiologist goes through the results, they will recommend the next course of action. If you have some form of hearing loss, they may recommend hearing aids or sometimes medical treatment, bone-anchored hearing systems or cochlear implants. For most people that have mild-to-moderate hearing loss, the most common course of action is hearing aids, which come in a wide variety of types to suit the individual’s lifestyle.

Do you need a hearing test?

The process of a hearing test is straightforward and painless. Hearing aids are becoming smaller and more advanced with every passing year. For people who are concerned that hearing aids will limit their quality of life, in fact, it does the opposite. If you are looking to book a hearing test or have any other questions about the process, you can get in contact with Your Hearing Connection by calling today at 626-538-9920 and we will get you back to great hearing health.