It’s fairly typical to have a little apprehension when it comes to tests, especially health tests. But when those tests can help lead to solutions to improve your quality of life, it’s time to grab the bull by the horns and make an appointment. When is the last time you had your hearing tested? Do you know what happens at a hearing test? Here’s a brief outline.

Meet the audiologist

The appointment begins with a brief consultation with the audiologist including medical history and any medications you may take. There’s also a physical examination of your ears. The audiologist checks for earwax blockages, infections or other problems. Not all hearing loss is permanent, so if your ears are clogged that may be one reason you’re not hearing well.

Take the hearing exam

A hearing test actually consists of at least two tests. The results give the audiologist a clear picture of which pitches (or frequencies) you may not hear well and where amplification may improve things.

The first test is called a pure tone test. While the test may remind you of the hearing tests you had in elementary school, the equipment is much more sophisticated these days! The test is performed in a soundproof room. You wear headphones and listen for tones that differ in pitch and volume. You note in which ear you hear the sound.

The next test is a speech test. It’s common for you to remain in the soundproof room with the headphones on. Recorded words are spoken softly and you repeat them as you hear them. Sometimes the audiologist will speak the words and have you repeat them.

Sometimes a tuning fork test is performed to check for conductive or nerve issues. The audiologist holds the tuning fork against your head behind your ear and taps it. You listen for the tone and when it fades.

Learn the results

After the tests are complete, your audiologist creates an audiogram. This is a chart of your test results which shows where your hearing falls within normal range and where you have any hearing loss (and how severe). With this graph, the audiologist can best recommend ways to improve your hearing, which often includes hearing aids. If it appears hearing aids will help, your audiologist will discuss your options, including style and price. If you opt for behind-the-ear hearing aids, you may receive them that day.

The audiogram provides the best information for your audiologist to program your new hearing aids specifically to address pitch and volume issues.

When you know what happens at a hearing test, you will be more at ease during the appointment. Because age-related hearing loss is extremely common, if you’re over 60, there’s a good chance your results will show some hearing loss. However, with today’s hearing aids, there’s no reason to worry about wearing the clunky styles of old. There are hearing aids to meet every lifestyle and improve your quality of life.