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What Is Hearing Test and How Is It Performed?

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Hearing testing is very important for the assessment of the level of hearing, but also for diagnosis and implementation of an appropriate treatment method for people who are struggling with hearing problems. To have your hearing tested, you should visit a prosthetic point, clinic or ENT surgery.

What are the types of hearing tests?

Hearing problems, tinnitus, dizziness or the constant asking the interlocutor to repeat the statement are the first signs that something disturbing may be happening with your hearing and you need to see a specialist for an appropriate examination. In the case of long queues to the ENT specialist, you can go to a hearing care professional who will perform audiometry (basic examination). Hearing tests performed in facilities contracted with the National Health Fund are free of charge. You can also do an online hearing test.

Hearing test methods can be divided into two groups: subjective and objective.

In the case of subjective examinations, the most frequently used diagnostic tool is tonal audiometry. Thanks to it, you can find out how soft sounds the patient can hear. Such a test must always be carried out in a very quiet room, adequately soundproofed so that external noise does not distort its results. Audiograms are able to visualise hearing thresholds in the range of 0–25 dB.

The use of an audiogramis not the end of subjective research. If the results are unsettling, then the patient is referred for speech audiometry. It is a test that shows the specialist the degree of understanding of certain words.

Objective research is the complete opposite of subjective research. In this case, the involvement of the patient is not required for diagnosis. Specialist equipment at the test site is enough.

Currently, the following are mainly used in objective hearing tests:

  • Tympanometry (this is a special probe that measures the reflection of the sound wave from the eardrum, taking into account the pressure change in the external auditory canal)
  • Otoacoustic emission (this is the registration of soft sounds that are emitted by the inner ear in response to selected acoustic stimuli)
  • BERA hearing test (assessing the auditory potential of the brainstem, showing the site of hearing damage)

Where to get a hearing test?

Hearing tests can be performed both prophylactically and for diagnostic purposes in several places. It can be an ENT doctor’s office or hearing care professional, as well as a facility that sells hearing aids; in such places, it is often even possible to perform the test free of charge.

If there are hearing problems, it is worth going for a referral to a general practitioner or opting for self-examination in a private office. This is a quick and convenient solution, but you should take into account that it requires incurring certain financial outlays.

What does the hearing test look like?

Regardless of the method of hearing test, the first thing to do is to check the patency of the ear canals. Why is it so important? Well, in the case of many tests, even a small obstruction affects the correctness of the test results. If there is fluid in the ear canals, it must be thoroughly cleaned before the test.

During the subjective examination, the patient wears special headphones, signalling to the examiner whether the sounds emitted are audible by him. If so, to what extent?

If during the examination, the patient is found to be hearing impaired, he or she will be recommended or referred for further tests to find the most appropriate treatment for the patient and prevent further deterioration of hearing.

After the tests, special recommendations will also be given as to what is to be done to protect the hearing from damage. It is a sense that is very important for every human being, so you should take care of it with the greatest care.

Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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