A hearing test is the first step in determining your hearing capability. If you have a hearing loss, it will detail the extent, type, and specifics of your particular hearing loss. The hearing test will be performed by a hearing specialist, usually in his or her office, using equipment called an audiometer.
The hearing test consists of a variety of tests to determine the unique aspects of your hearing loss, as well as the level at which you can detect and understand speech. This evaluation can be conducted on people of any age, from newborn infants to seniors.
A hearing test may include the following tests:
- Air conduction testing
- Bone conduction testing
- Speech testing
- Distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAE) testing
- Auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing
- Tympanometry or acoustic immittance testing
The hearing test is covered by most health insurance policies, though you may need a referral from your primary care physician to quality for coverage.
Why a Hearing Test is Important
Hearing tests identify hearing loss, and give your hearing specialist important information to help determine the best course of action for treatment. Some types of hearing loss can be treated medically or surgically, so it's important that these types of hearing losses be ruled out before hearing aids or other treatments are considered.
If it is determined that you could benefit from hearing aids, the hearing test helps your hearing specialist know which hearing aids will be most appropriate for your needs.
What Can I Expect During a Hearing Test?
The evaluation will probably last about 30 to 40 minutes in length. You should also allow for time for discussion with the hearing specialist to review test results, and ask questions.
If the determination is made that you need hearing aids, allow for sufficient time to discuss your options.
It is recommended that you bring a family member with you to the evaluation appointment. Most specialists agree that hearing loss is a family issue. It helps to have another supportive person at the appointment to help you understand the information and recommendations.
Before your appointment, a complete medical history will be completed and the hearing specialist will want to hear about any complaints you have about your hearing. He or she will pay special attention to any concerns you have about exposure to noise, tinnitus, and balance problems. Make sure that you take a full list of any medications and supplements you are taking with you to your appointment.
The hearing test is a good chance to establish a relationship with your hearing specialist. It helps to ask around for recommendations to hearing specialists in your area and find someone who listens carefully to your concerns. Above all, don't be afraid to ask questions. You will want to be clear on any information you receive so that you can be an active participant in finding hearing solutions that work best for you and your lifestyle.