Audiometry testing is a branch of science that deals with the study of hearing and the assessment of auditory function in humans. The test measures a person’s hearing ability and how well they can understand speech. It is important to have your hearing checked regularly, especially as you get older, to make sure that you are not losing your hearing. There are many causes of hearing loss, but it is most commonly caused by exposure to loud noise. If you think that you might have hearing loss, the first step is to book an appointment with an audiologist for a hearing test.
How is audiometry performed?
During the audiometry test, you will be asked to sit in a soundproof booth wearing headphones. The audiologist will give you a list of words or numbers and ask you to repeat them back. They will then use a machine to measure how well you can hear different frequencies of sound. The test is quick and painless, and it will give the audiologist all the information they need to assess your level of hearing loss.
There are two types of audiometry tests: pure-tone audiometry and speech audiometry. Pure-tone audiometry measures your ability to hear different tones at different frequencies. Speech audiometry assesses your ability to understand speech. Both types of tests are important in order to get a full picture of your hearing ability.
What does the test reveal?
The results of the audiometry test will be plotted on a graph called an audiogram. The horizontal axis represents frequency (measured in Hz), and the vertical axis represents intensity (measured in dB HL). Theaudiogram will show whether you have any hearing loss and, if so, what type of hearing loss it is.
There are three main types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed. Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a problem with the outer or middle ear, such as blockage from earwax or damage to the eardrum. Sen sorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or the auditory nerve. Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural losses.
Hearingloss can also be classified as mild, moderate, severe, or profound; this refers to the degree of loss, not the type.
Mild – You can hear some sounds but not others; speech may be unclear.
Moderate – You have difficulty understanding speech; sounds are muffled Profound – You cannot hear any sounds
Once the audiologist has assessed your level of hearing loss, they will be able to recommend a course of treatment. If you have mild or moderate hearing loss, they may suggest wearing hearing aids; for severe or profound loss, they may recommend cochlear implants.
Cochlear implants are electrical devices that are surgically implanted into the inner ear; they work by sending signals directly to the auditory nerve so that sound can be heard by the brain (NIDCD, n.d.). Cochlear implants are usually only recommended for people who cannot benefit from wearing hearing aids because they do not amplify sound like conventional aids do; rather, they replace damaged parts of the ear so that sound can be heard at all (NIDCD, nd).
If you think that you might have hearing loss, it is important to book an appointment with an audiologist for a complete audiometric assessment. The test is quick and painless, and it will give the audiologist all the information they need to assess your level of hearing loss and recommend a course of treatment. With early intervention, most forms of hearing loss can be successfully managed so that you can continue enjoying life to its fullest extent.