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Hearing

What happens when your hearing is tested

What happens when your hearing is tested

For most adults, your hearing is tested by using headphones to check the softest sound that you can hear. You will be asked to respond when you hear a sound, which might be very faint. The different levels of sounds are called thresholds and these determine the type of hearing loss you might have, and the degree.

Another common part of a hearing test uses an instrument called a bone conductor, which is a bit like a headband that sits on the bone behind your ear. This instrument measures how your hearing nerve hears the sound, as they are gently vibrated through the bones in your head.

When you get the results of your test it will be on a graph called an audiogram. This puts your hearing thresholds on a graph to show you how close your hearing is to the normal range. Not only does it show how severe your hearing loss may be, it will also show where the problem may be coming from.

The audiogram has two sections – frequency and intensity. Frequency is shown across the top of the audiogram. This is the pitch of the noise, measured in Hertz (Hz). A low frequency will have smaller numbers than a higher frequency. For example, the sound of your refrigerator running would measure around 500Hz. A louder sound such as birds chirping would measure around 4000Hz.

Intensity is on the side axis of the audiogram and measures how loud the sound is in decibels. Rather than testing how loud things are, your hearing test is looking to measure the softest sounds that you can hear in each ear.

The audiogram will show whether your hearing issue is mild, moderate, severe or profound. It can also help to show what type of hearing loss you may have such as sensori-neural conductive, or mixed.

If you have a speech perception test the results will also be compared to your audiogram. This test helps show how your brain is receiving and understanding speech.

Depending on any symptoms you have and the results of your audiogram you may need further testing. Your healthcare practitioner will advise you of any other tests that you may need.