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Hearing Tests: How They Work and Where to Take One

hearing test
Photo by matthew mcglynn/recordinghacks.com

How do hearing tests work? In the most simple of terms, any hearing test measures the performance of your inner, middle, and outer ears. There are many different types of hearing tests, and each type has its own mechanism for how it works. In general, a hearing test, also known as an audiometric test, produces some type of sound and then measures at what frequency and volume the sound can be heard by the person taking the test. The most common of these tests, known in the industry as an audiometry test, is perhaps the most familiar. For an audiometry test, a person is typically put into a sound isolation booth where they put on a headset and hold a button in their hand. They then listen to a series of tones that test sensitivity and range of hearing, pressing the button each time they hear a sound. The results are then provided in the form of a chart called an audiogram.

Other types of tests use bone conduction technology to directly test hearing loss based in the inner ear, bypassing the outer and middle ear completely. It is able to do this by creating vibrations in a person’s skull that are directly transmitted to the inner ear and then processed by the brain. If this test is not able to determine what is causing the hearing loss, your doctor may recommend an auditory brain-stem response test (ABR). As the name suggests, this test actually records how your brain stem is processing the nerve impulses from your ears. This is done by placing electrodes on a person’s earlobes as well as their head, which then record the brain’s response to clicking noises and record it on a graph.

Where Can I Get a Hearing Test?

Surprisingly, hearing tests can be given by people other than an audiologist. When you ask, “Where can I get a hearing test?” your doctor may respond, “right here,” or provide a referral to someone who is more specialized and can better help you.In addition to medical doctors, hearing tests may be administered by nurses, nurse practitioners, psychologists, and various other medical professionals. The best way to determine where you can get a hearing test is to simply ask your primary-care physician if they can provide one or give you a referral to someone who does.

Who Can Tell Me How to Read a Hearing Test?

There are many sources where you can get help learning how to read a hearing test. Your primary source for understanding what your hearing test says should be your doctor or audiologist. More often than not, part of a post-test office visit will include going over the test results with you. Ask the technician or doctor to look at your test and tell you what it means, as someone specially trained in this type of testing will best be able to understand and clearly explain the results. Then, you can move forward with the process of selecting any hearing aids or other assistive devices you might need.

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