Now, more than ever, cases of hearing loss among the young and old have hit the max, with over 36 million Americans suffering from some degree of hearing loss. What is more worrying is the fact that those affected are not taking the necessary steps to rectify their hearing difficulties. In addition, some victims of hearing loss are not even aware that they have a hearing problem. Hearing loss can significantly affect the quality of your life if it is not detected and treated as early as possible. For those suspecting a decrease in their hearing ability, going for a hearing test is the first step to treating the illness before it becomes severe.

Hearing tests are very important since they help determine the type and level of hearing loss. Appropriate treatment and medication to improve the condition only comes after successful diagnosis of the problem. The tests can also be used to evaluate whether the hearing has improved or not. If you have a hearing difficulty, the following are some of the hearing tests your audiologist is likely to perform when determining the type and severity of your hearing problem.

1. Speech Reception and Word Recognition Test

These tests measures the ability to hear, perceive and understand speech during quiet one-on-one conversation. During the test, the audiologist will ask you to repeat a series of simple words spoken at different levels of noise. Using two syllable words, called spondees, the doctor will be able to determine the softest level at which you can repeat a list of familiar words. Word recognition testing is performed at a louder level, usually a comfortable level, and is scored as a percent correct.  Twenty-five-word lists are usually administered.  Some may be in quiet while others may have noise present as well.

2. Tuning Fork Test

This is one of the most basic tests for detecting hearing loss. It can detect both unilateral conductive hearing loss and unilateral sensorineural hearing loss. It makes use of a tuning fork, which is a metal with two prongs that produces a tone when it vibrates. The purpose of this test is to measure how well sound moves through the ear – not the volume of it.  This test is typically performed more often by a physician than an audiologist.

3. Audiometry Testing

This is the calibrated test used by health professionals to determine a person’s hearing ability. It uses a machine called an audiometer to measure how well one can hear. In this test, an audiologist uses the audiometer to play a series of tones at different pitches through headphones. The aim of this test is to measure the ability of an individual to differentiate between different pitches of sound and to distinguish speech from background noises. Once the test is completed, the results are used to establish whether the individual has a hearing problem or other complications with the ear. Of all the hearing tests, the audiometry test is considered to be the most effective test for diagnosing type and degree of hearing loss.