According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, one in eight people in the United States has hearing loss in both ears, based on standard hearing tests. In context: that’s 13 percent of the population, or roughly 30 million individuals.

Hearing loss symptoms

Hearing exams are powerful tools and methods used by audiologists and other hearing healthcare professionals to diagnose the type and degree of hearing loss an individual has. A person should undergo a hearing test when they notice the following symptoms: 

  • Persistent hearing problems in one or both ears
  • Difficulty understanding words in everyday conversation
  • Others complain volume of TV is too loud
  • Difficulty hearing children or women

As mentioned before, hearing tests determine the type and severity or degree of hearing loss an individual has. Many types of tests are available and employ different methods, but they all have the same function: to measure one’s ability to hear sound reaching through the inner ear, into the ear canal and into the skull. 

What do I do during a test?

Hearing tests are pain-free but do require some active response from the person undergoing the testing. During a hearing test, the audiologist or other hearing healthcare professional will likely ask a patient to respond to sounds by pressing a button or raising a hand. These tones will be played at varying volumes and pitches, giving the audiologist a better understanding of the range of sounds a person can or cannot hear.

The pure-tone audiometry is a perfect example of the aforementioned type of test.

During this test, an audiometer will play a series of tones through headphones. These tones will vary in pitch and loudness, which will be controlled by your hearing healthcare professional. The test will likely be repeated multiple times, using a higher-pitched tone with each subsequent test. Each ear will be tested separately, as hearing loss does not always occur equally in each ear.

Other types of hearing tests 

Other types of hearing tests include:

  • Whispered speech test
  • Tuning fork test
  • Speech reception and word recognition tests
  • Otoacoustic emissions testing
  • Auditory brainstem response testing

Like the pure-tone audiometry, these tests are pain free and usually do not involve any discomfort. Talk with your audiologist to find out what tests they feel will be beneficial for diagnosing your hearing problems.