Exploring the Different Types of Hearing Tests

Hearing tests measure your ability to hear sounds of different loudness and pitch. They are usually conducted by professionals called audiologists. The results are charted on a graph called an audiogram, which helps to pinpoint the type, severity and cause of your hearing problem.

Melbourne Audiology Centre will administer a pure-tone test by playing tones at various sound levels through earphones. Additionally, they may conduct speech testing and an auditory brainstem response test.

Speech Test

The speech test or speech audiometry is a method of measuring the ability to recognise words in a quiet environment. The results of this type of hearing test can give your Hearing Health Clinician important information about the cause and nature of your hearing loss.

Standardised speech tests often use a word list with single-syllable words or sentences presented at different levels of loudness (known as suprathreshold). The word lists are compiled using phonetically balanced words to ensure that the test materials represent connected English discourse. Monosyllabic word tests do not offer a complete picture of your communicative ability so we also measure speech in noise.

A popular test is the HINT speech in noise test, which uses sentence material and a masked presentation to determine the threshold for sentences presented at 40 dB above the bone conduction threshold of the non-test ear. Another popular speech in noise test is the QuickSIN.

These types of audiologist hearing tests in Eltham can also be used to measure a patient’s uncomfortable listening level, or UCL. This is done with a cold running speech stimulus and the result gives an estimate of the dynamic range of speech for that individual. The UCL can be useful for determining appropriate gain settings. It can also be useful for assessing how well a person is able to use their hearing in noisy environments.

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Audiometry Test

During this test, you will sit in a sound-proof booth and wear headphones. The audiologist will play tones or different sounds of speech, and you will indicate when you hear them by pressing a button or raising your hand. The audiologist will then give you a graph called an audiogram, which shows the softest sounds that you can hear at each frequency. This will help the audiologist identify your hearing threshold for each pitch, indicating which frequencies are difficult for you to hear

In addition, you may take a pure tone audiometry test, where your audiologist uses an ear examination scope to tap on the outer ear and tympanic membrane (ear drum) and holds a special tuning fork against the mastoid bone behind each ear in order to determine how well you can hear via air conduction. This test helps the audiologist determine whether your hearing loss is conductive or sensorineural, which means that it is caused by the inner ear rather than a physical blockage in the ear canal. You can also see an audiologist ear wax removal Geelong.

You can also take a speech discrimination test, where you are asked to repeat familiar monosyllabic words at increasing volumes until the softest level that you can clearly recognize them is identified. This is often used to measure your ability to understand speech in a noisy environment.

Bone Conduction Test

During this test, an audiologist transmits vibrations through the skull using a bone oscillator that connects to a headband. The patient will enter an acoustically treated booth and have the headband placed over the forehead. The oscillator is then attached to the bone behind the ear, the mastoid bone. The audiologist then plays pure tones of various frequencies and volumes through headphones and asks the patient to signal when they hear each tone. The minimum volume required to detect each sound is graphed and used to determine the type and severity of the hearing loss.

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The results of the bone conduction test are compared to those from an air conduction test and can help the audiologist pinpoint where the hearing loss is coming from. For example, if the patient experiences difficulty hearing sounds transmitted through the bone vibrator, it suggests that the problem is in the outer or middle ear. Conversely, if the issues detected during the bone conduction test are different from those of the air conduction test, it suggests that the problem is a conductive issue and further testing needs to be done.

A Rinne test is also performed during an audiology visit, and uses 512-Hz tuning forks to test your responses to sounds and vibrations. A tuning fork is tapped and then held against your forehead or the bone behind one ear (mastoid bone). The doctor will move the tuning fork to the other side of your head to see how you respond.

Auditory Brainstem Response Test

ABR (or BAER) testing is an electronic test that measures the brainstem auditory pathways that carry sound from the inner ear to the central nervous system. It can detect very subtle electrical changes that occur in the cochlea and in the nerves that conduct hearing signals to the brain.

This is a very common and reliable test for assessing your child’s hearing sensitivity. It can also be used as a universal newborn screening test to identify hearing loss in infants. The ABR is a non-invasive test, safe for babies and young children, and can be completed while they sleep. It is important that your child be well rested and not hungry or full right before this test since movement can interfere with results. If your child needs hearing aids after the ABR test, you can find a qualified audiologist hearing aids in Kew to discuss options.

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An ABR evaluation uses a very small number of sterilized electrodes to measure the electrical activity of the brain, and earphones or inserts to play clicking sounds that are sent to the ears. The audiologist can read these signals with a computer and then calculate the result of each click, or tone burst. The audiologist may also use a bone conduction ABR to replace the earphones with a pair of bone-conducting headphones that will send sound directly to the cochlea.

This test is very helpful in diagnosing a variety of hearing disorders including otosclerosis, acoustic neuromas and other tumors and traumatic injuries to the ear. It can even provide a glimpse into the anatomy of the ear by looking at wave V and examining the latency information.