Hearing Tests 101
From the name, you might have a slight guess of what hearing tests are. Of course, it is to check how well you can hear or how bad your hearing is but do you know that there are many ways to check your hearing?
What is a hearing test?
Hearing tests measure how well a person can discern between loudness and pitch. A hearing test assesses a person’s hearing sensitivity over the whole speech spectrum. An audiogram is a type of hearing test that determines the quietest sound that can be heard repeatedly within the speech range.
Among the tests offered are pure tone audiometry and speech discrimination tests. Hearing tests are given on a case-by-case basis for babies and children.
How do we hear?
A sound wave is created by the vibrations of air molecules. Massive vibrations produce a loud sound, but little vibrations produce a gentle sound. Before transferring sound vibrations to the cochlea, an inner ear snail-shaped structure filled with fluid, the bones in the middle ear amplify, or intensify, them. The decibel scale (dB) is used to measure the volume of sound.
Slow vibrations create low-frequency noises such as a foghorn, whereas fast vibrations produce high-frequency sounds like a whistle. These tests are usually administered by audiologists, or hearing specialists.
Types of hearing tests
An audiometer is a machine that produces a variety of beeps and whistles, which are essentially pure tones. This test measures your ability to hear sounds at various pitches and loudness using air conduction. You will be instructed to put on headphones and sit in a custom-made booth.
When you hear the noises, you hit a button or otherwise indicate it. Your air conduction hearing is evaluated if you listen to the clear tones with headphones. This examination examines both your exterior and inner hearing pathways.
Another pure-tone test that assesses your inner ear’s reaction to sound is this one. A conductor will be implanted behind your ear, sending small vibrations straight to the inner ear through the bone. This differs from the classic form, which sends audible noises through the air. If the findings of this test differ from those of pure-tone audiometry, your audiologist will be able to determine the kind of hearing loss you have.
Tympanometry is a middle ear examination. It can detect a perforated eardrum or an ear infection, both of which are frequent in youngsters. The movement of your eardrum in reaction to air pressure is measured in this examination. It can tell if there is a buildup of fluid, wax, eardrum perforations, or tumors in the ear.
OAE is an acronym for Otoacoustic Emissions. It is an inner ear function test that serves as the foundation for newborn hearing screening exams. The vibrations of the hair cells in the cochlea of your inner ear produce OAEs, which are sounds. This form of testing stimulates the cochlea and measures its reaction using a small probe equipped with a microphone and speaker.
Emissions are created by those with normal hearing. When hearing loss surpasses 25-30 dB, no sound is produced. This test determines if there is an ear canal obstruction, excess fluid in the middle ear, or damage to the cochlea’s hair cells.
When a person, such as a baby, refuses to comply with a hearing test, SSEP, known as Steady State Evoked Potentials is used. When the patient is asleep, electrodes will be placed on the skin surface of the head to record the activity of the hearing nerve in reaction to noises given into the ears. This test can be used to estimate hearing thresholds.
The ABR, known as the Auditory Brainstem Response test, is similar to the SSEP in that it only measures hearing thresholds for high-pitched noises. The ABR can also be used to diagnose hearing nerve pathology. The auditory brainstem response (ABR) test determines how well the inner ear and hearing-related brain circuits are functioning. It is also known as an auditory evoked potential (AEP). The test is used with children and those who are unable to finish a standard hearing exam.
This test is intended to determine your speech reception threshold (SRT), which is defined as the weakest speech you can comprehend 50% of the time. It assesses your ability to distinguish speech from background noise in either a calm or loud situation.
When you have dizziness, you will be subjected to a set of examinations called vestibular testing. They are utilized to see if the inner ear’s balance system is causing your dizziness. The set’s tests make use of the link between eye movements and the balance organs. These tests are based on changes in eye movement data.
Symptoms that might need a hearing test
- Tinnitus is the term for a ringing sensation in the ears.
- You were told that you speak too loudly.
- You frequently have to ask individuals to repeat themselves.
- Conversations are difficult to hear, especially if there is background noise.
- Others say that the volume on your television is too loud.
The severity of hearing loss
- Mild (21-45 dB) – it might be difficult to discriminate between quiet noises.
- Moderate (46–60 dB) – Conversational communication is difficult to hear at this level, especially if there is background noise such as a television or radio.
- Moderately severe (61—75 dB) – regular conversation is difficult to hear.
- Severe (76-90 dB) – conversational discourse is impossible to understand.
- Nearly all noises are inaudible due to the loudness (91 dB). Hearing aids are beneficial to the majority of patients with substantial hearing loss.
What will happen on your first appointment?
You should be prepared to explain all of your concerns about your hearing during your initial session, including how you feel about your hearing and when you first noticed it. It is vital to talk openly about the many scenarios in which you have difficulty hearing well so that your hearing may be assessed appropriately.
Your audiologist will inspect your ears to verify that there is no wax blockage or something obstructing the hearing test.
They will then want a brief history of your hearing difficulties, whether they appeared gradually or suddenly, and whether you have had any illnesses or accidents that might have contributed to your hearing problems and the challenges you’ve had to deal with.
The audiologist will then do an audiogram to evaluate your hearing, which might take 20-30 minutes to complete.
How much does a Hearing Test cost?
Hearing tests in Singapore typically cost around $15 and above for a checkup and if you require hearing aids, the price will be higher. Unfortunately, Medisave does not cover such expenses.
A medical consultation, such as sending you to an ENT specialist, may be needed in some circumstances. If hearing aids are recommended, you will learn which options are ideal for you, taking into account your hearing needs, lifestyle, and budget. More individuals are wearing hearing aids these days, and they are reaping the benefits of greater hearing at an earlier age.