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Your ENT and Hearing Care Specialists

What to Expect at a Hearing Test

Ear Exam

There’s always a little apprehension when it comes to medical examinations. But when you know what the exam involves, you have a little higher comfort level. You know what to expect at the eye doctor’s office or the dentist, but do you know what to expect at a hearing test? Remember how easy and painless a hearing test was when you are young? That part of the exam is virtually the same, but technology has provided some major advances. Here is some information to help you prepare for your hearing test.

Step one: an examination

Your hearing test appointment will take about an hour or so. It begins with a physical examination of your ears. The audiologist will check for any problems such as earwax blockages, infections or injuries. He or she will ask about your medical history, any medications you take and whether anyone in your family has hearing loss. You’ll also have time to ask any questions about the audio tests and other issues.

Step two: hearing tests

The same general principles apply to today’s audio testing versus those you had in elementary school. However, with technological advances, audiologists are better able to pinpoint where any hearing loss occurs and target how best to treat it. At least two tests are performed: pure tone testing and speech testing. With pure tone testing, you sit in a soundproof room and listen to sounds through headphones. As you listen for a tone, you signal whether you hear it in your right or left ear. The sounds are played at various volumes and different pitches. Speech testing checks how well you hear words that are whispered or spoken softly. Sometimes the audiologist will perform a tuning fork test, which determines the conductivity of sound to your inner ear.

Hearing tests for infants differ from those used for children and adults. Prior to leaving the hospital, infants receive several tests to check middle and inner ear functions. Children receive similar hearing tests as adults but may use different means to signal how they hear the tones.

Step Three: the results

When the exams are over, your audiologist provides a detailed printout showing where your hearing falls within normal and abnormal ranges. These results will pinpoint whether or not you need hearing aids and where adjustments can be made to improve your hearing. If you need hearing aids, your audiologist discusses the various styles available and how each may work with your hearing loss and begins the fitting process. You might even be able to leave the appointment with your hearing aids! Your audiologist also asks about your budget and lifestyle to find the right hearing aids for you.

When you know what to expect at a hearing test, you feel much more comfortable about the procedure and that works to your advantage. Remember, audiologists are professionals with advanced degrees who can do much more than administer hearing tests – they also can determine many different causes of hearing loss and provide treatment.