What happens during a hearing test?
We recommend that any adult who has not had their hearing tested within the past five years be seen for a baseline hearing test. If a hearing loss is found, the audiologist will likely recommend re-testing in a year or two to monitor your hearing levels.
What is involved in a hearing test? First, you and your audiologist will review your history. We will discuss what other types of health concerns you have, and what medications you are currently taking to treat them. We will ask you questions about factors in your life that may impact how well you hear--whether or not other members of your family had trouble hearing, if you spent a lot of time around noisy environments, or if you experience tinnitus or hearing loss. We will discuss the concerns that brought you in for the appointment that day.
The next thing the audiologist will do is look in your ears. Mostly they are looking for signs of wax or infection. Your ear canal is a long tube with an opening on one end and the eardrum on the other. If wax is found, the audiologist can remove it for you that day. If signs of infection are found, he or she may refer you to your primary care doctor or an ear, nose and throat physician for treatment.
TYMPANOMETRY AND ACOUSTIC REFLEXES
Next, the audiologist will put a small rubber tip in the opening of your ear canal. You'll hear a buzzing sound, and feel a pressure change as if you were going up in an airplane. This test looks at the health of your eardrum. Sound is vibration, so all parts of your ear have to be moving well in order for you to hear your best. There are muscles and bones back behind the eardrum--their health is tested by checking their response to loud beeps. Just sit quietly--the computer is doing all the work. This test also checks the health of your Eustachian Tube (a thin tube connecting the space behind the eardrum with the back of the throat--it can sometimes become clogged in someone who is experiencing cold, allergy, or sinus symptoms).
Next, the audiologist will put another small rubber tip in your ear. This time, you will hear what sounds a little bit like an alien or a robot beeping. In the inner part of your ear, in a place we can't see with our eyes, there are tiny hair cells that act as the nerve endings for your sense of hearing. When those hair cells hear the beeping sounds, they send a type of echo back out through your ear that can be measured by the probe tip sitting in your ear canal. This helps us test the health of the nerves in your ears--again, all you have to do is listen because the computer does all of the work for you automatically.
COMPREHENSIVE AUDIOLOGICAL EVALUATION
When you enter the sound booth, you'll sit in a chair and be handed a button. This is the part of the test that most people think of when they think a hearing test--press the button whenever you hear the beep! The audiologist will put small foam earphones in your ears that feel somewhat like earplugs. First, you'll listen to few lists of words and repeat what you hear. One list is looking for the quietest words you can hear, and the other is looking at how clearly you can understand speech at comfortable volumes. Next, you'll listen to the beeps. Make sure you press the button even if they are very quiet! Depending on your concerns, the audiologist also may ask you to do some listening with noise in the background.
After all testing has finished, you and the audiologist will meet in her office to discuss the results of the hearing test and any recommendations she may have.
Ready to schedule your baseline hearing test? Give the nearest office a call! (410) 672-1233 (Odenton) or (410) 672-1244 (Severna Park).