Common Hearing Loss Tests
Hearing loss is a common issue among Americans, with more than 48 million citizens suffering from some form and degree of it. While it is a common issue, hearing loss typically varies from person to person. Because of the variance, hearing healthcare professionals have an array of tests they rely on to help identify the type and severity of a patient’s hearing loss.
Pure-tone tests determine the faintest or quietest tones a person can hear at varying pitches or frequencies. During the test, a patient wears earphones in order to test each ear. During the test a patient will respond to the tones, either by raising a hand or finger, pressing a button or saying ‘yes’ to indicate the sound was heard.
Auditory brainstem response (ABR)
ABR testing gives information about an individual’s inner ear, called the cochlea and the brain pathways used for hearing. The test is appropriate for both adults and children. During the test, the hearing healthcare professional will place electrodes on the patient’s head. The electrodes record the brain wave activity that occurs while the brain responds to sound. During the test, the patient rests quietly and can even sleep, as no response is necessary.
Otoacoustic emissions (OAC) tests
OACs are sounds that the inner ear gives off when it is stimulated by sound. These sounds (vibrations, really) can be measured by a small probe. The probe is gently inserted into the ear canal and provides data to the hearing healthcare professional regarding how well these sounds are transmitted and picked up.
Speech tests are one of the more simple types of hearing evaluations a hearing healthcare provider will rely on to diagnose hearing loss. During speech testing, an audiologist will record word recognition or a patient’s ability to correctly repeat a series of words presented at varying levels of volume. Speech testing occurs in both noisy and quiet environments, as it is important for the hearing healthcare professional to understand when an individual has trouble understanding speech.
What comes after testing?
All tests performed by a hearing healthcare professional will provide information for they need to correctly identify and treat a patient’s hearing loss. The audiologist will discuss the test results and suggest treatment solutions for the hearing loss, most commonly including hearing aids.