What To Expect When You Go For A Hearing Test

Do you constantly have to turn up the volume on the radio or TV? You could have a hearing problem and not even notice until it's too far gone. To determine what's going on, you may get sent for a hearing test, but what does that mean?

When you or your doctor suspect you have hearing issues or sometimes simply when you reach a certain age, you will likely have to take a hearing test. Hearing loss can get worse if it goes untreated, and there are many options to help manage and prevent further loss once it has been detected (per Johns Hopkins Medicine). There are three main types of hearing loss: sensorineural, which involves the nerves that control hearing or the structure of the ear; conductive, which is caused by something blocking sound from reaching the ear; and mixed, which is a combination of both (via MedlinePlus).

Symptoms that may lead to a test include trouble hearing high-pitched sounds, ringing in the ears, or trouble understanding what people say. The purpose of a hearing test is to detect your current hearing level and use those results to determine if there is a problem. While your primary healthcare physician may perform the test, you will likely be referred to a specialist. An otolaryngologist, also known as an ENT, specializes in treating diseases and issues related to the ears, nose, and throat. Alternatively, an audiologist specializes in diagnosing, treating, and managing hearing loss.

Hearing tests utilize sounds in earphones

According to the World Health Organization, more than 1 billion young adults are at risk of permanent hearing loss due to hazardous listening practices. Likewise, 25% of adults over 60 experience a significant hearing loss, so going for a hearing test is probably smart. The test itself requires no preparation and will usually have you listening through earphones for various sounds (via WebMD).

The sounds will be low and high pitched, short and long, and loud and quiet, and will sound in each ear individually. There can also be a test that involves you listening to the sound of people speaking and repeating the words you hear. The test will take around 30 minutes and should not be painful or frightening as the sounds are played at levels to test you, not cause damage.

The results will be examined based on the level of hearing loss. An average adult has hearing loss of up to 25 decibels. Decibels are the measurement unit for sound, with normal speech occurring at about 60 decibels. Hearing loss from 26 to 40 decibels is considered mild, 41 to 55 decibels is moderate, 56 to 70 decibels is moderate-to-severe, 71 to 90 decibels is severe, and 91 to 100 decibels is profound. While hearing loss can't be cured, it can be managed. Johns Hopkins Medicine advises that hearing loss prevention through ear plugs and avoidance of loud noises is the best way to protect your hearing as you age.