Hearing tests, often performed by audiologists to determine whether or not a person is suffering from hearing loss, are simple procedures that provide a hearing healthcare provider with information. These tests are easy and pain free. Depending on which audiologist you select, you may have a variety of hearing tests performed at the office.

Types of hearing tests

Those performing hearing tests have an arsenal of tests to choose from. Each test can work together or separately to determine the type and degree of hearing loss an individual has. Types of tests include:

  • Whispered speech test. In this test, your audiologist will ask a patient to cover the opening of one ear with a finger. Then, standing about one foot behind the patient, the healthcare professional will whisper a series of words. Patients are asked to repeat the words they can hear. If words are not heard, the audiologist will continue to repeat them at louder volumes until the patient can accurately repeat the word back.
  • Pure-tone audiometry. This sophisticated test relies on a machine called an audiometer to play a series of tones and different pitches and loudness through a pair of headphones. The audiologist will control the volume of the tones. The patient will be asked to respond to each tone by raising their hand or pushing a button. Each ear will be tested separately.
  • Tuning fork tests. A tuning fork test is a metal, two-pronged device that emits a tone when it vibrates. During this test, an audiologist will strike the fork to produce a tone. The fork is placed behind the ear. The test is performed to determine how well sound moves through the ear.
  • Speech reception/word recognition tests. These tests measure how well an individual can hear and understand normal speech. Much like the audiometric test, an individual will be asked to respond to sounds — this time speech — relayed in different volumes.
  • Otoacoustic emissions (OAC) testing. This test is often performed during a newborn screening to determine any potential hearing loss. During the test, a small microphone is placed in the ear canal. The microphone emits sound and can detect the inner ear’s response to the sound.
  • Auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing. This test sounds scarier than it is; during ABR testing, electrodes are placed on the scalp and each earlobe. The patient wears earphones through which noises are sent. The electrodes track the brains’ response to the clicking noises and record those responses.

If you are experiencing symptoms of hearing loss, don’t hesitate to contact an audiologist in your area to have hearing tests performed.