What to Expect From Your Hearing Test
Has your GP asked you to have a hearing test? Don’t worry; it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with your hearing. However, hearing tests should be undertaken regularly, especially if you work in a high-risk environment or are above a certain age.
Age and excessive noise exposure make hearing loss more likely. 14.5 per cent of the Australian population suffers from hearing loss, a large amount of which could have been prevented from becoming problematic if regular hearing assessments were the norm.
Conducted by a qualified Audiologist
A diagnostic hearing test should always be conducted by a university-qualified Audiologist.
In Australia, audiologists are required to undertake at least five years of study to ensure they can competently diagnose and manage a wide range of hearing-related issues, including tinnitus and balance disorders.
To find a qualified and trusted Audiologist near you, visit Attune Hearing. With 50 accredited hearing care providers across Australia,
Undertaken in a calm and quiet environment
Your audiologist will have a quiet, sound-treated room or enclosure prepared for your hearing test.
This ensures your test results aren’t influenced by environmental noise or other distractions that could affect your hearing scores, including traffic noise, air conditioner sounds and conversations in the clinic’s waiting room.
What is Included in an Adult Hearing Test?
There’s no need to be nervous about a hearing test. Hearing assessments are completely pain-free and non-invasive. Your audiologist will give you a pair of headphones connected to an audiometer – a particular instrument used to conduct hearing tests.
To test the hearing of infants and young children or hearing aids and cochlear implants wearers, your audiologist may have special loudspeakers installed instead.
The Components of a Full Diagnostic Hearing Test
No matter where you are undergoing your hearing assessment, hearing assessments for adults should always include three main types of tests to accurately
identify the degree and extent of your hearing capacity.
1. A pure-tone audiometry test.
You could also refer to this as the actual “hearing test” part of your assessment. It measures the very softest sounds you can hear at each frequency.
Your audiologist will ask you to sit in a soundproof room or booth and communicate with you through your headphones. They will then play a range of sounds, and every time you hear a sound or tone, you will be asked to press a button.
During a pure-tone audiometry test, your audiologist will play tones at different pitches and volumes. Therefore, you will have to listen closely to respond to very soft sounds you can barely hear.
But don’t worry, you can’t fail a hearing test. The results may only be indicative of a hearing loss, and in that case, you will sit down with your audiologist to discuss your diagnosis and possible treatment options.
2. A speech discrimination (speech audiometry) test.
After the hearing test follows the part of the assessment that requires you to
repeat words played through your headphones to see how well you can understand them accurately. This is referred to as speech audiometry testing.
Audiologists often use pre-recorded or live speech. Once again, the aim is to determine your speech sound threshold. Or better, the softest spoken word you can hear and understand.
3. A middle ear (tympanometry) test.
During every hearing assessment, your audiologist should also look at your middle ears and Eustachian tube function. This part of the test helps to diagnose the cause and nature of your hearing loss.
As part of the middle ear test, they will place soft, small plugs (similar to earphones) in your ears to measure your eardrum movements responding to sound. But instead of soundwaves, your audiologist uses air to test your eardrums’ response and determine how effective sound is transmitted into the middle ear.
The plugs are connected to a device called a tympanogram, which is why this part of the hearing assessment is also referred to as a tympanometry test. The tympanogram records the movement of the eardrums on a graph. If your results are within normal limits, you’ll see a mountain shape appear.
Source: Healthy Hearing.
Speech in Noise and Words in Noise Tests
If you have a hearing loss, you may wonder why your Audiologist doesn’t test your hearing in real-world situations. After all, your hearing may be much worse in noisy environments, such as cafes, office spaces or grocery stores, than in quiet rooms.
Of course, there’s a solution to that as well. Some standard tests your audiologist may use to quantify your hearing ability in background noise could include:
- Connected Speech Test (CST)
- Speech Perception in Noise test (SPIN)
- Speech in Noise test (SIN or Quicksin)
- Hearing in Noise Test (HINT)
In one form or another, these tests involve listening to spoken words through a speaker whilst another speaker plays a range of noises at increasing volumes. Should you receive hearing aids to treat your hearing loss, you’ll retake this test to fine-tune your hearing aid settings.
What Happens After Your Hearing Test?
Once you’ve completed your hearing assessment, your audiologist will walk you through the test results and explain how sensitive you are to different sound frequencies and whether or not you will require more testing for a definitive diagnosis.
From there, your audiologist will help you decide what steps to take next. That could, perhaps, include a hearing aid trial or the referral to an ENT surgeon.
Understanding your hearing test results
After your hearing test, you will receive what is called an audiogram. Simply put, it is a graph of your hearing that displays the softest sounds you can hear across different pitches and frequencies.
Do You Need a Hearing Test?
Are you concerned with your hearing? Call your nearest Attune Hearing clinic and book a free 15-minute hearing test to get to the bottom of it!
Until then, here’s a quick way to determine whether or not you should have a hearing test!