Did you know there is more than one way to test if you have hearing loss? These days, audiologists have a battery of tests that enable them to pinpoint the cause, degree, location and severity of a person’s hearing loss  — in each ear. They are able to do this by relying on myriad tests that provide different and supplemental data. Types of tests include:

  • Auditory brainstem response
  • Pure-tone testing
  • Speech testing
  • Otoacoustic Emissions
  • Tests of the middle ear

What is auditory brainstem testing or ABR?

ABR tests provide data about the inner ear and the brain pathways used for hearing. The test is suitable for children or others who might have a difficult time with conventional behavioral methods of testing for hearing loss. Additionally, the test is often used for individuals whose hearing loss may be caused by some type of issue with the brain or pathways in the brain.

To perform an ABR, an audiologist will place electrodes on the patient’s head to record the brain wave activity in response to sound. Unlike many other tests, a patient will not be cued for a response. In fact, they can sleep or rest quickly while the test is being performed (as such, it is a great test for a baby). In fact, this is the type of test often performed during mandatory newborn screening exams. The test can only check for one intensity, so babies either pass or fail. Those who fail often requires additional screening for hearing loss.

The ABR, along with other hearing loss tests, will help to determine the type and degree of hearing loss an individual has. From the diagnosis, an audiologist will be able to provide a treatment plan, typically hearing aids or cochlear implants for children.

Visit an audiologist

The first step to determining if you have hearing loss is to schedule an appointment with an audiologist in your area. The audiologist will gather critical information from you like your medical history, medication you are on and any symptoms you’re experiencing. If you have any questions about the testing process or the information they are gathering, don’t hesitate to discuss them with your audiologist. They want you to feel comfortable and confident in their care, so they will be happy to talk about any concerns with you.