If you’ve never had a hearing test, you may wonder what is going to happen. There is no need to worry, hearing tests are common, occur every day and don’t cause any pain or discomfort. Here are four things you should know about your hearing test.

1. It’s about talking and listening

You may expect your hearing test to just be about the audiologist asking you to listen to sounds. That happens as part of the pure-tone test, but the audiologist will spend some time talking with you as well.

You will be asked about your medical history, including any history of head injuries or ear infections. The audiologist will also want to know about any medication or supplements you take. You will also be asked about your lifestyle, including sports or outdoor activities you may enjoy. If you need hearing aids, the answers to these questions will help the audiologist recommend the right model for you.

2. Several tests may be performed

Your hearing test will most likely be a series of tests. First, the audiologist will want to examine your ears to see if there are blockages or malformations that prevent you from hearing properly. You will want to make sure you clean your ears before your exam!

The audiologist will then test your ability to hear different sounds at different levels. Each ear will be tested independently. Based on these results, you may have speech recognition tests to determine how you hear with different levels of background noise. A tympanometry probe may be used to determine if your middle ear is working properly.

3. Reviewing your results

The results of your hearing tests are recorded on a long strip of paper called an audiogram. Each ear is graphed separately. The audiogram is a visual representation of your ability to detect different frequencies at different decibel levels. The audiologist will go over the results charted on the audiogram and explain to you what they mean. Don’t be surprised to find out that you may only be missing certain frequencies. This is common as we age.

4. Discussing hearing aids

If the results of the tests indicate that you have hearing loss, the audiologist will discuss your options for hearing aids. There are many different styles available with a variety of features available. Some require earmolds and others do not. The audiologist may let you try different models using disposable plugs or other sterile methods.