A hearing test is an evaluation of the sensitivity of a person’s hearing across a full spectrum of sounds. It measures the softest and quietest sound that a person can hear. A hearing test is typically performed by an audiologist using an audiometer. The results are sketched onto an audiogram.
With adults and older children, the most common hearing test is called a pure-tone test which identifies even the faintest tones that can be heard at varying frequencies, from a low pitch to a high pitch. This is sometimes referred to as a hearing screening. Typically, the child or adult will wear earphones during the test. Wearing earphones is typically not an issue with adults but, at times, children are uncomfortable with them. This isn’t a problem. At that point, we’ll pass these tones at their varying frequencies through a speaker inside one of our sound booths. We refer to this as sound-field screening and the results are recorded on an audiogram – a graph that illustrates and indicates the type, degree, and configuration of hearing loss, if there is any.
Make sure that children’s ears are screened regularly throughout their elementary school years. Adults should regularly visit their primary doctor’s office for checkups.
Hearing Testing (Diagnostic Audiologic Evaluation)
Your hearing specialist may determine that you need further testing for hearing loss after the initial pure-tone test. An in-depth hearing test uses an otoscope that casts light to look into your ears and will indicate the cause of hearing loss, the degree (severity) and configuration (shape) of hearing loss, and the optimum treatment options.
Myriad hearing tests can detect hearing loss in adults and children. Not all tests are performed and each depends on the age of the individual:
- Pure-Tone Testing – pure-tone audiometry (PTA) hearing tests identify hearing thresholds and help determine the type, degree, and configuration of hearing loss
- Speech Testing – speech reception threshold (SRT) testing is performed on adults and older children and supports the results of the pure-tone test. The test involves listening to certain words spoken at different volumes which are then asked to be repeated.
- Tests of the Middle Ear – include tympanometry (detects wax blockage, fluid, and perforation), acoustic reflex measures (locates hearing loss and the loudness level at which the acoustic reflex occurs), and static acoustic impedance (identifies perforation and the volume of open space inside the ventilation tubes).
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) or Auditory Evoked Potential (AEP) – focuses on the inner ear (cochlea) and the brain pathways
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs) – sounds emitted from the inner ear when it’s stimulated by another sound. Normal hearing produces soft sound emissions; people with hearing loss more than 25–30 decibels (dB) do not produce them.
Hearing Loss in Children (Infants and Toddlers)
Pediatricians will typically perform myriad tests on infants and toddlers to ensure that all senses are performing at anticipated levels. If problems with hearing are detected, the pediatrician will refer your child to a hearing specialist for a specialized hearing test or diagnostic audiology evaluation. It’s important to have your child’s hearing tested because the average age to detect significant hearing loss is 14 months. if hearing loss is detected later in life, there are increased risks of delayed language development which will impact learning in school.
Listen 2 Life audiologists are hearing specialists specifically trained to detect, assess, and treat hearing problems and hearing loss. If you feel that you or your children may be affected by hearing issues or loss, please call us at (267) 477-1446.