While hearing loss can often be detected through common symptoms such as extra loud television sets or asking people to repeat themselves, like most medical issues, diagnosis requires an examination. If you suspect you suffer from hearing loss it’s important to see a hearing healthcare professional such as an audiologist for proper diagnosis.

To determine if you have hearing loss, the audiologist will perform a series of tests. These tests enable the audiologist to understand the type and severity of your hearing loss.

How the hearing tests are performed

The most common type of hearing test performed for diagnosing hearing loss is called an audiometric test. The purpose of the test is simple: it determines how well a person is able to hear by measuring how well sound can reach the brain. While the way we hear is quite complicated, the test to measure your hearing efficacy is quite simple. Most audiometric tests require you to respond to a series of tones or words, usually by raising a hand or clicking a button. The tones will vary in pitch (frequency, measured in hertz) and loudness (or intensity, measured in decibels). 

The audiologist will control the volume of a tone, reducing or increasing its loudness to determine what tones can be heard and what tones are uncomfortably loud.  Each ear will be tested separately, as hearing loss can occur in different degrees from side to side.

How to prepare for a hearing test 

It is important to prepare for an ear exam (don’t worry — no studying required) so that the audiologist has all the pertinent information they need to make a proper diagnosis. To prepare for your hearing test, make sure to:

  • Write down the symptoms you’ve been experiencing, such as problems hearing normal conversation
  • Tell the audiologist if you have recently been exposed to painfully loud noise, especially if that noise has made your ears ring
  • Write down a list of all antibiotics or medications you are on
  • Recall and relay to the audiologist if you have recently had a cold or ear infection 

Hearing test results

The results of the hearing test will be charted on an audiogram. The audiologist will read the audiogram and determine the type and degree of hearing loss for each ear. From there, they will likely suggest solutions, such as hearing aids or other assistive listening devices that can help you hear better. Remember that although hearing aids do not restore hearing, they do help individuals with hearing loss live happier, less stressful lives.