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What Can You Expect During Your Hearing Test?

a man getting his hearing tested

Hearing tests are crucial diagnostic tools that allow your audiologist to assess your hearing and, if required, decide the appropriate treatment for any hearing loss you may be experiencing. If you have never undergone a hearing test before, then it’s natural that you will want to know more about what to expect from the process, so we’ve outlined all of the essentials below. 

Expect a conversation about your medical history

You’re probably familiar with the fact that whenever you meet a new medical professional, you’re asked to provide an overview of your medical history – and your audiologist will require much the same. You will usually be asked to fill in a form that includes information relating to your health, including any injuries to the head or neck you may have sustained in the past, as well as any medications that you are taking. The latter is particularly important as some medications are classed as ototoxic, which means they can damage hearing; your audiologist will, therefore, need to know if you are taking such medications before your test begins. 

Expect to be asked for details regarding your hearing health

It’s likely that your audiologist will start the appointment by asking you for information regarding your hearing. If you are taking a hearing test for a specific reason – for example, you have developed symptoms of hearing loss and wish to have this checked out – then you can explain these reasons to your audiologist. However, even if you are taking the test primarily as a screening of your hearing health, your audiologist will still ask about your hearing health and lifestyle factors – particularly in relation to the level of noise you are exposed to regularly – that may influence this.

Expect a pure-tone audiometry test 

There are actually a number of different tests that fall under the banner of hearing tests. However, if you are taking a hearing test for the first time, it is likely that you will take a pure-tone audiometry hearing test. Here’s what to expect from this specific test: 

  • You will be asked to wear a pair of earphones for the duration of the test.
  • Your audiologist will then intermittently play sounds at different pitches and frequencies through the earphones. 
  • If you can hear a sound, you will indicate this to your audiologist – this may mean just saying yes, raising a hand, or pressing a button.
  • If you cannot hear a sound, you do not need to do anything. 
  • In total, a pure-tone audiometry test takes between 30 and 60 minutes to complete. 
  • The results of your test will be plotted on an audiogram and analyzed by your audiologist. 

Your audiologist will explain the exact procedure to you before the test, and you will also have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about what you need to do during the test itself.

Expect the possibility of other hearing tests 

In some instances, your audiologist may administer two other types of hearing tests. The first of these is a speech test, which will involve listening to speech (this may be recorded or words spoken live by your audiologist) and then repeating back the words that you can understand. 

The second type of test is a bone conduction hearing test. This test works in much the same way as pure-tone audiometry, but instead of wearing earphones, sounds are delivered to your inner ear via bone conduction. This type of test is designed to ascertain the type of hearing loss you may be experiencing. 

There are also types of hearing test that may be used; the above are simply the most common. If you would like to know more about your appointment specifically, then call your audiologist’s office before your appointment and ask for more information on the test, or tests, they are most likely to use. 

Expect follow-up advice and guidance

If the tests have shown that you are not experiencing hearing loss, then your audiologist will simply advise you when you should next undergo a test and provide a few tips on hearing care. 

If you are diagnosed with hearing loss, your audiologist will usually ask you to return for a second appointment. This appointment may be for further tests, or it may be to discuss hearing aid options. You may also be offered the opportunity to look at hearing aids after your first test, though this is not guaranteed. What is guaranteed is that you will be informed of the diagnosis and have the next steps thoroughly explained to you, so you should leave the appointment confident that you know exactly what happens next.