How Office Hearing Tests are Performed
The First Test
Our first test is a simple one to see if you need a more comprehensive audiogram. The simple procedure most often involves blocking one ear at a time and checking your ability to hear whispers, spoken words, or the sound of a ticking watch.
A tuning fork may be used. The tuning fork is tapped and held in the air on each side of the head to test the ability to hear by air conduction. It is tapped and placed against the mastoid bone behind each ear to test bone conduction.
Audiometry provides a more precise measurement of hearing. For this test, you wear earphones attached to the audiometer. Pure tones of controlled intensity are delivered to one ear at a time. You are will be asked to raise a hand, press a button, or otherwise indicate when you hear a sound. Another hearing test called otoacoustic emission testing (OAE) can be used in very young children (such as newborns).
The minimum volume required to hear each tone is graphed. A device called a bone oscillator is placed against the bone behind each ear (mastoid bone) to test bone conduction. This doesn’t hurt at all.
How to Prepare for the Test
No worry because there is nothing you need to do to prepare for this test.
How the Test will Feel
There is no discomfort. The length of time varies. An initial screening may take about 5 to 10 minutes. Detailed audiometry may take about 1 hour.
Why the Test is Performed
This test can detect hearing loss at an early stage. It may also be used when you have hearing problems from any cause.
Common causes of hearing loss include:
Chronic ear infections
Diseases of the inner ear
Medicines that can harm the inner ear, including certain antibiotics (such as neomycin or gentamycin), diuretics, and large doses of salicylates (such as aspirin)
Occupational hearing loss
Here is What We Regard as Normal Test Results
The ability to hear a whisper, normal speech, and a ticking watch is normal.
The ability to hear a tuning fork through air and bone is normal.
In detailed audiometry, hearing is normal if you can hear tones from 250 Hz – 8,000 Hz at 25 dB or lower.
What it means if you have hearing loss:
There are many kinds and degrees of hearing loss. In some types, you only lose the ability to hear high or low tones, or you lose only air or bone conduction. The inability to hear pure tones below 25 dB indicates some hearing loss. The amount and type of hearing loss may give clues to the cause, and chances of recovering your hearing.
The following conditions may affect test results:
Age-related hearing loss
Occupational hearing loss
Ruptured or perforated eardrum
Risks of taking a hearing test
There is no risk.