Types and Reasons To Conduct Hearing Tests

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Individuals may have hearing tests performed all through their lives. The hearing loss test, also known as an audiometric test, evaluates the person's ability to hear. The test tries to evaluate the hearing ability by attempting to measure the ability of the sound waves that reach the brain for getting processed.

The sounds in our environment reach us in the forms of vibrations through the air, liquid, and solid materials. The audiological assessment can help quantify the hearing abilities in terms of hearing loss and the degree of it. The results which mention the type and configuration of hearing loss are very essential.

Reasons Why Hearing Tests are Conducted

These hearing tests are conducted:

  • To screen infants for hearing problems. Infant hearing tests are conducted to check for any hearing impairment that may be interfering with the child's ability to speak, learn or understand. Usually it is recommended that all new born babies be checked for hearing loss right when they are born.
  • To screen children for hearing problems. If children develop a hearing problem in their childhood, their language development gets stunted. A lot of behavior and speech problems are related to hearing. When they begin their schooling, a lot of children may face problems if their hearing is not good.
  • To evaluate hearing loss in a person who has persistently experienced hearing problems.
  • To screen older adults for hearing problems. In older adults, the hearing capabilities diminish naturally. This is often mistaken for diminished mental capabilities.
Hearing tests are usually conducted in an audiometry laboratory or a health professional's clinic. These tests are conducted by a hearing specialist, otherwise known as an audiologist.

Types of Hearing Test

There are several different tests that can be conducted:

  • Whispered speech test: As the name suggests, in this test, the specialist stands at a little distance from you and whispers a series of words. You have to repeat the words that you hear. Each ear is tested separately for this.
  • Pure tone audiometry: This uses a machine known as an audiometer which plays a series of tones through the headphones. The volume and pitch of these tones can be control to check the degree of hearing loss.
  • Tuning fork tests: The tuning fork, a two pronged device that vibrates and produces a tone, is used to examine the movement of sound through the ears.
  • Speech reception and word recognition tests: These are tests that examine the ability to hear normal conversations and understand the flow of words.
  • Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) testing: This is a particular test which is administered to screen infants and new born babies for hearing problems.

Apart from these tests, there are other tests available that check for neural deficiencies that may cause an interference with the reception of sound. There is also a hearing in noise test that helps to identify sounds when there is noise in the background.