Many individuals in the United States live with undiagnosed hearing loss. Undiagnosed hearing loss can be a detrimental health condition, causing secondary and tertiary issues including depression, isolation and regression. Those who suspect they have hearing loss should make an appointment with an audiologist and undergo hearing loss testing. There are many types of tests a patient may go through, including:

  • Pure-tone testing
  • Tests of the middle ear
  • Auditory Brainstem Response
  • Otoacoustic Emissions
  • Speech testing

What is pure-tone testing?

Pure-tone testing is an air conduction test that determines the faintest tones a person can hear at varying pitches, or frequencies. The audiologist will select pitches, from low to high, for a patient to hear. During the test, the patient wears earphones so that data can be collected from each ear. If earphones cannot be worn, for example, if the audiologist is conducting the pure-tone test on a child who may refuse to wear them, sound will be played through speakers inside of a sound booth. This specific type of pure-tone testing is called sound-field screening; it does not test each ear independently.

During the pure-tone test, the patient will be asked to respond to the sounds by raising a hand, pressing a button or saying ‘yes’ when a sound is heard.

Sometimes, another special variation of pure-tone testing needs to be done. When earwax or fluid is blocking the outer or middle ears, pure-tone bone conduction testing is typically used. During this test, sound will bypass the blockage through vibration. The signal will reach the inner ear directly through the vibrations. Pure-tone bone testing will measure the response of the inner ear. The measurements are expansive enough to enable an audiologist to determine the type of hearing loss an individual has.

Each of these tests serves a different purpose to better provide an audiologist with the information needed to determine the type and degree of hearing loss an individual has.

Visit an audiologist

If you suspect you might have hearing loss, schedule an appointment with an audiologist in your area. The audiologist will gather important background information about your health, a list of medicine you are taking and any symptoms you think are contributing to your suspected hearing loss. They will perform a physical exam of the ear and will conduct hearing tests. They will also be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the testing or treatment process.