Hearing Loss And Tests: What You Need To Know

If you feel like hearing people talk or hearing music is something that is becoming more difficult, it may be time to talk to your doctor about getting a hearing test. These specialized tests are designed to measure your current ability to hear different pitches and frequencies, and can help better pinpoint the measure of hearing loss as well as possible causes.

How Does Hearing Work?

When humans hear sounds, they receive sound waves through the air that go into the nerve endings of the ear. These waves are then transmitted as signals to the brain, which translate them in order for people to decipher words or noises. As the waves reach the ear canal, they hit the eardrum, which vibrates. When the vibrations travel to the bones located inside the middle part of the ear, they vibrate. These vibrations become amplified and move toward the inner ear. There is fluid located inside the cochlea, which transports the vibrations to the auditory nerve of the brain.

Why Do You Need a Hearing Test?

There are many reasons a doctor might suggest people take a hearing test. Here are some common scenarios:

  • Hearing tests are often performed for babies and small children to ensure their hearing is developing properly. 
  • Patients who have noticed "muddled words" when people speak or muted sounds should have a hearing test.
  • Anyone who works in an environment with loud machinery or musicians who are near loud noises frequently should have regular hearing tests.
  • Elderly persons who are experiencing more difficulties in hearing should be tested.
  • People who have had head trauma or experienced any kind of head injuries should be tested to determine if they've experienced any hearing loss.

What's Involved in a Hearing Test?

The doctor administering a hearing test will use several different processes to determine the level of hearing loss. The whisper test involves the doctor speaking to the patient in a whispered tone from a few feet away. One ear should be covered, and then the same steps taken with the other ear. Next, a machine called an audiometer is used. This machine emits different tones and pitches to the patient through a pair of headphones. The patient should raise their hand every time they hear a sound until it's no longer audible. The speech recognition test has patients repeat words they hear at different tones until they can no longer make out what is being said. There are more intensive tests performed for more serious hearing issues, but these are the most common tests that can help decide how much hearing loss a person may be experiencing. Visit a clinic like Audiology Clinic Of Northern Alberta for more information.