Hearing tests are used to test your ability to hear and understand speech in different situations. A hearing test measures how well you hear sounds of different pitches, volumes and frequencies. The test does not measure how well you can understand speech — that’s what language skills are for.
The most common type of local hearing test is an audiogram (also called a pure-tone audiogram). This is a graph of your hearing level against frequency. The graph shows the smallest amount of sound that you can still hear clearly at each frequency (pitch) on the vertical axis and time on the horizontal axis. A normal audiogram has no dips or peaks indicating any problems with your hearing.
If you have a dip in your audiogram because of a problem with your ears or ear wax, or if there are multiple dips from ear infections or other problems, then you may need additional testing to determine what exactly is wrong with your ears.
What is a hearing test?
A hearing test is a medical procedure that evaluates your hearing. It can include an audiogram, which is a graph of your hearing abilities and how they compare to the average person. The results of the audiogram may help you determine if you have any hearing loss or mild to moderate hearing loss. A professional will discuss the results of your audiogram with you, as well as other related tests such as pure tone audiometry, speech audiometry and speech-in-noise testing.
How does it work?
During the hearing test, a technician places tiny earphones in each ear and connects them to a device that measures sound levels in each ear canal. They then play different sounds at different volumes — some loud enough so you can hear them clearly but not so loud that they hurt your ears. The technician measures how long it takes for you to realize what sounds are coming through each earphone and compares this time to how long it takes others who have normal hearing.
There are several factors to consider when deciding whether or not you need hearing tests. Some of these factors include:
Age. Children, teenagers and young adults should have their hearing tested at least once a year, while adults should have their hearing tested every two years.
Workplace. If you work in noisy environments or with machinery, such as construction workers or factory workers, then your hearing may be at risk for damage to your ears.
Family history. If a family member has a condition that affects their ability to hear well, it may be worthwhile for them to get a hearing test so that you can both learn how your hearing compares to theirs and learn how you can best protect your ears from potential damage caused by loud noises in the future.
Pre-existing conditions or illnesses. If you have certain medical conditions that could affect your ability to hear well, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, it’s important that you visit an audiologist before beginning any treatment plan for these conditions.