What hearing tests will an audiologist perform?

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Almost 15% of Americans suffer from hearing loss. The only way you can be diagnosed with hearing loss — temporary or permanent — is to seek hearing tests with an audiologist. The diagnosis of hearing loss takes a couple of hours in an appointment, and can include a variety of test.

Otoacoustic emissions

Otoacoustic emissions are sounds given off by the inner ear. This occurs when the cochlea is stimulated by various noises. Emissions are measured to narrow down the type of hearing loss you are experiencing. Your audiologist measures emissions with a small probe inserted into the canal of the ear.

Middle ear test

To check how your middle ear is functioning, your audiologist pushes air pressure into the ear canal to make the eardrum vibrate. The acoustic reflex measures where the hearing impairment is located. They’ll also be able to identify whether your eardrum has perforated.

Speech test

One of the ways you notice hearing loss is that you struggle to hear people speaking in groups. You will listen to conversation in noisy and quiet environments to determine what you hear. Your ability to repeat words back will be recorded during the test.

Auditory brainstem response

During this test, electrodes are placed on your head to record brain waves. The auditory brainstem response provides information about the inner ear and the brain pathways for hearing.

Pure-tone test

This tests what range of pitches you can hear. You’ll wear headphones and hear tones at different pitches, and your audiologist will ask you to push a button whenever you hear a sound.

A conversation about your background and lifestyle at the beginning of your appointment helps your audiologist determine which tests are right for you and your situation. There’s no need to worry because hearing tests are not painful. Tell your audiologist if you are feeling anxious about the tests or the results. They will be happy to walk you through the tests first.

Dr. Sarah Hickey, Au. D., is an audiologist and owner of Audiology Associates.