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What to Expect During Your Hearing Test
Regular hearing tests can help to protect your hearing function, reduce the risk of hearing loss and identify potential signs of hearing loss as soon as they occur. Before you visit your audiologist, you may want to familiarize yourself with what a hearing test involves, so that you know exactly what to expect. To learn more, look at how hearing tests are conducted:
Understanding your hearing health
The first time you have your hearing tested, your audiologist will ask you to complete a medical history form. This helps them to identify issues that may affect your hearing function, so it’s important to give as much information as you can.
Your audiologist will also ask some questions about your lifestyle, as this can have an impact on your hearing needs. If you work in a loud environment or regularly attend concerts, you may have an increased risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss.
Finally, your audiologist will ask whether you’re experiencing any hearing or ear-related symptoms. If you suspect you have hearing loss they may ask you to describe when it’s most noticeable or when you first began experiencing symptoms.
Having a hearing test
An audiologist may visually inspect your ear prior to commencing the hearing test. This enables them to determine whether any existing conditions may be present, such as an infection. Following this, you’ll be asked to enter a soundproofed room or booth. Conducting your hearing test in a soundproofed environment ensures that external noises won’t impact your results.
Hearing tests are usually carried out using an audiometer. This is a device that’s used to measure your hearing function. You’ll be asked to wear headphones and press a button when you hear a sound. The audiometer will then record your response so that your hearing function can be assessed. The audiologist can also communicate with you via these headphones, so they’ll be able to provide you with instructions throughout the test.
The first part of your hearing test will usually consist of pure-tone audiometry. This means that a range of different tones will be played via the headphones and you’ll be asked to indicate when and if you hear them. Tones across a range of frequencies are used to determine whether your hearing function changes depending on the pitch of a sound.
Following this, speech audiometry may also be used as part of your hearing test. This involves using pre-recorded or live voices to recreate speech. As many people experience symptoms of hearing loss when they’re conversing with someone else, testing your hearing function in this way can be an effective way to accurately diagnose hearing loss.
In addition to this, the audiologist may play pre-recorded speech combined with real-world noise. This mimics environments in which there may be a significant amount of background noise, such as in a bar or at work. Again, you’ll be asked to indicate when you can hear the speech and may be asked to repeat it so that the audiologist can determine how much of the speech, you’re able to follow.
Understanding your hearing test results
Once the test is complete, the results will be plotted onto a graph known as an audiogram. The varying frequencies of sound are represented horizontally on an audiogram, while the loudness of the sound is represented in decibels vertically.
Two separate lines are added to the audiogram to indicate your unique hearing function. An audiologist can determine whether you have hearing loss and, if so, what type, by looking at your audiogram. If the line for your right ear shows that you did not respond to a 5,000 hertz sound until it reached 50 decibels, it may indicate that you have moderate high-frequency hearing loss in your right ear.
Enhancing your hearing function
If your hearing test indicates hearing loss, your audiologist will explain what this means in detail and establish how severe your hearing loss is. He or she will also tell you about the various options available. If your hearing loss is age-related or noise-induced, wearing hearing aids can be an effective way to improve your hearing function.
Additionally, your audiologist will help you to find ways to protect your existing hearing function. They may recommend using ear protection when working in noisy environments, and help you to find suitable devices.
By visiting your audiologist for regular hearing tests, you can ensure that any changes to your hearing function are identified quickly. Furthermore, a hearing loss diagnosis can be the first step to accessing the assistance you need and enhancing your listening experience.