HOW A HEARING TEST WORKS AND HOW TO DETECT ANOMALIES
03 April 2020
Do you suspect some loss of hearing or do you work in a noisy environment? It is recommended to visit an audiologist for a hearing test every 2 years to check the status of your hearing and to determine, if necessary, the nature of any hearing impairment. Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Anamnesis
Before undergoing a hearing test itself, the audiologist will always begin by asking you a series of questions to get a better understanding of your hearing problems and to focus their attention on a particular disorder, if necessary. They will inquire about your family’s medical and hearing loss history, any recent exposure to intense noise, tinnitus and even your listening habits.
Step 2: The Ear Exam
Your ears will then be auscultated with an otoscope to detect possible lesions in the eardrum or ear canal, which may be the reason for decreased hearing.
A Series of Tests in a Soundproof Environment
Step 3: Pure-Tone Audiometry
This involves analyzing your hearing ability using a series of so-called “pure” sounds. You will be fitted with headphones.
Step 4: Tone Test
In order to determine your hearing thresholds, which are the weakest tones that you can hear in each ear, you will be asked to listen to many sounds transmitted at different frequencies and intensities (low, high, etc.). You must signal the slightest sound you hear in real time, while the audiologist records your answers on an audiogram. This exam enables the audiologist to detect any loss of auditory acuity and to determine its intensity as well as its nature, which might be, for example, neurosensory, conductive or mixed.
Step 5: Impedancemetry
To check for possible issues in the middle ear cavity, they will measure your ability to detect pure sounds with the help of a transmitter placed behind your ear.
Step 6: Speech Audiometry
The audiologist will also evaluate your auditory discrimination, which is your ability to understand speech, expressed as a percentage. This test is used to determine if the auditory nerve has the slightest deficiency, as it plays a crucial role ensuring signals transmitted from the ear to the brain are perceived. Analyzing your understanding of speech can also determine whether the problem may originate in the brain.
***It should be noted that the number obtained does not indicate the percentage of your hearing loss, but only your ability to discern the words.
Step 7: Typanometry
Also called immittance testing, this part of the hearing test examines the eardrum’s mobility and middle ear ventilation. The audiologist will check if the eardrum is perforated (no tympanic mobility), if it is harder than normal (the presence of retro-tympanic fluid) or if there is tubal dysfunction (middle ear ventilation disorder). They will also take a look at the reflex adaptation and the acoustic reflex, which is the involuntary contraction of the stapedus muscle in the middle ear. There is nothing for you to do, other than just sit back and relax.
If you do not have any significant hearing loss, you should return for another hearing test in two years. However, if the audiologist does discover a hearing loss, the level of hearing impairment indicated on the audiogram will determine if you should be fitted with a hearing aid or not. If so, you will make an appointment with an audioprosthetist who will properly advise you on the most suitable models for your needs and will make a direct mould of your ear at the end of the session in the event you opt for an in-ear device or custom-made ear tips.
Take care of your hearing by getting it tested regularly; it’s best for your well-being and your socio-professional life.