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What is a Hearing Test?

 Hearing tests come in a variety of different forms, with each designed to analyse a particular part of the ear. They’re used to ascertain your level of hearing, and to see what treatment – if any – you require.

What are the different methods?

At Hear4U, we employ the following types of hearing test:

  • Otoscopy – A look into your ear canal with an ‘otoscope’ (a thin tube with a handle that widens into a lens, sometimes called an auriscope) to test for obstructions, earwax build up or issues with the ear canal and eardrum. Afterwards, you view the results on a TV screen or iPod depending on what the audiologist is using.
  • Tympanometry – Used to test your middle ear function: the audiologist will examine how well your eardrum (tympanic membrane) responds to gentle pressure. This will detect anything that would inhibit the motion of the eardrum, such as excess fluid, infection, or eustachian tube dysfunction.
  • Audiometry – Designed to measure the softest or least audible sounds that a person can hear. You will wear headphones for an air conduction check and hear a range of sounds directed at one ear at a time. Then you will receive a bone conduction measurement which determines the softest sound you can hear by stimulating the inner ear directly. This is achieved by a bone vibrator that is placed behind the ear, on the mastoid bone.
  • Word recognition test – Essentially a speech discrimination test, this evaluates a person’s ability to understand speech from background noise. If your speech perception is poor, speech can sound garbled and unclear. Word recognition scores can be useful in predicting the effectiveness of a hearing system and determining exactly what level of technology you need to ensure that your hearing is improved as much as possible.

How are the results measured?

Your hearing results are recorded on an audiogram.  This is a graph of the softest sounds you could hear. It is laid out much like a piano keyboard, with low to high frequencies (pitches) going from left to right (125Hz to 8000Hz), soft sounds at the top and loud sounds to the bottom (-10 dBHL to 120 dBHL).

Once our Hear4U audiologist has completed your test, the graph will be filled in: an example is shown below. The X plots the quietest sounds you’ve heard in the left ear while the O shows the quietest sounds picked up in your right ear – this is known as the headphones’ test or air conduction.

If your hearing is normal, you would see a chart similar to this.

What are the types of hearing loss?

Mild Hearing Loss is between 25dB and 40dB. You would often have difficulty following speech, especially in noisy situations. This type of loss is often noticed by family first rather than yourself.
Mild to Moderate Hearing Loss is between 41dB and 70dB. You often have difficulty following speech and other quiet noises.
Severe Hearing Loss is between 71dB – 90dB. You are unable to hear speech even in quiet surroundings and do not hear general noises such as traffic unless it’s loud.
Profound Hearing Loss is greater than 90dB. You are unable to hear most sounds unless they are really loud.

There are other, more specific types of loss:

If your results fall below the “normal” hearing levels in the above graph, then our Audiologist will explain the loss in more detail, as well as going on to do further tests.

A key example being our LiSN-S Speech Recognition test, which analyzes your ability to hear a conversation in the presence of background noise. If you need hearing aids, this will help us to establish what level of technology is best for you. The test involves you wearing headphones and listening to a series of short sentences, which you then have to try and repeat in order to see how your hearing is affected in noisy surroundings.

No matter how severe or otherwise your hearing loss, Hear4U are on hand to help. As specialized audiologist with decades of expertise, we deal with each and every type on a daily basis. What’s more, our customized solutions are tailor-made for each individual, meaning that you get the care and aftercare you need, every time – no exceptions.