How Does an Audiologist Conduct a Hearing Test?

a hearing loss patient discussing his audiogram with a smiling hearing professional

Maybe you’re getting older, or you are having trouble conversing with people the way you used to. Maybe you’re having to turn the TV volume up louder, or you’ve noticed other symptoms that could be signs of hearing loss. If you suspect your hearing is changing due to one reason or another, you may want to visit an audiologist to see if they can conduct a hearing test. Visiting an audiologist sooner, rather than later, will ensure you know what is going on with your hearing and that you are aware of what you can do to minimize any changes later on down the line. 

In fact, many health professionals will recommend occasional hearing tests as you get older, just to ensure that everything is working the way it should be. With age, hearing loss becomes more likely. About 14% of people from ages 45-64 have some degree of hearing loss. Visiting an audiologist and having a test done for the first time might seem daunting to some, so here, we will explain the process. Here’s how an audiologist conducts a hearing test:

How long should the process take?

An audiologist will perform your hearing test in around 30-60 minutes. 

What happens during the hearing test?

The very first step will be getting to know your personal hearing health and medical history, along with any concerns you have about your hearing. There are lots of potential causes of hearing loss, so the medical history will help determine whether your hearing loss is genetic, inherited, or caused by something else. Medical conditions like allergies, head colds, ear infections and even impacted earwax can contribute to hearing loss. Any past trauma to the head or ears may have also played a part in temporary or permanent hearing loss. 

Upon starting the test, most adults will be asked to wear a pair of earphones so that they can listen to short tones at different volumes. You will listen to these tones at different pitches, one ear at a time. Whether or not you can hear the various sounds will indicate whether you have hearing loss and to what degree you have it. 

In some tests, you may also be instructed to listen to speech at different volumes. This will also be played through one ear at a time. The voices will be played through the headphones, and you will need to repeat what is being said. The test may be done in a quiet or a noisy room, as some people may only have trouble hearing when there is background noise present. 

Getting the test results

The results are not a pass/fail situation like other kinds of tests. The test will simply show whether you have hearing loss, which ear it is in and how much of your hearing is actually gone. 

Sound intensity is measured in decibels, and knowing what sort of sounds correlate with various decibels can give you a clue as to where you’re at with your hearing currently. For example, somebody whispering to you is about 30 decibels, while somebody shouting in your ear can be 80 decibels and above. 

Adults who have hearing loss up to 25 decibels are considered to have normal hearing. Hearing loss is then broken down as follows:

  • Mild hearing loss: 26-40 decibels
  • Moderate hearing loss: 41-55 decibels
  • Moderate-to-severe hearing loss: 56-70 decibels
  • Severe hearing loss: 71-90 decibels
  • Profound hearing loss: 91-100 decibels

Hearing loss can happen gradually, so some people may be surprised to learn that their hearing loss is further along than they thought. If this is the case, you will not be able to restore your hearing loss, but there are things you can do to make the situation bearable, along with methods to protect the hearing that you do have. 

Hearing aids are now suitable for many different types of patient as they come in all kinds of styles and with various functions. An experienced audiologist will be able to help you find the right hearing aid, or another solution for your situation and needs. 

Learn more about Country Roads Audiology today

If you want to have a hearing test and have questions about your hearing, you can contact Country Roads Audiology at 540-209-8993. A member of the Country Roads Audiology team will be able to assess you and help you to come up with a plan to protect your hearing!