Hearing is one of the most important of the five senses. Impaired functioning of the ear not only causes a loss in hearing but also causes dizziness and a loss of balance.
A hearing test evaluates the overall functioning of a person's ear. These tests can help detect problems in the auditory part of the person's inner ear portion. Sometimes, some of these hearing tests can also be used for screening purposes instead of using the extremely expensive MRI tests.
Some of these tests are also used in conjunction with other tests to detect disorders like Meniere's disease. Another reason why doctors may advise patients to take these tests is to check the efficacy of hearing aids.
The Schwabach test is one such hearing test which is conducted using tuning forks. Tuning forks have remained one of the oldest and most reliable methods of testing hearing. They are non invasive and can be done anywhere. These tests, classified as bedside hearing tests, are especially convenient for elderly people whose movements are restricted because of age.
Some of the common tuning fork tests are the Rinne test, Weber Test, The Bing, and Schwabach tests. Here's what these tests do:
The Schwabach test makes a comparison between bone conduction of the patient and the examiner. The tuning fork is placed between the patient and examiner and a sound is created. If the patient can no longer hear the sound even though the examiner can hear it, it is indicative of a sensory neural loss and if the examiner stops hearing it and the patient can still hear it, it suggests a conductive loss. However, this test is completely dependent on the hearing powers of the examiner.
This is a common office test in which a comparison is made between two hearings. In the first one, the base of the tuning fork is applied to the bone and hearing is elicited after it. When the sound is completely inaudible, the vibrating top is brought near the external ear canal. If there is a positive value, it means there is an air-bone gap because of which there is a conductive loss. However, the Rinne test, though popular, has very limited usage.
In this test, a tuning fork of 512 Hz is placed on the forehead of the patient. In this test, an ipsilateral conductive hearing loss is said to occur if the sound seems to be louder on one side than the other. A contralateral sensorineural hearing loss may also be determined by the use of this test.