(Hearing Assessment; Hearing Test; Audiology; Audiography)
Audiometry is a test that measures how well you can hear. This test is performed by an audiologist, a person trained to identify and help manage hearing problems.
What to Expect
Prior to Test
Your audiologist may ask you:
- When your hearing difficulty began
- If it affects one ear or both
- If you hear ringing in your ears
- If you have ever had pain or discomfort in your ears
- If there has been any recent drainage from your ears
- If you have ever had ear infections
- If you have ever had ear trauma
- If you have ever had ear surgery
- If you ever experience dizziness
- If there is a family history of hearing loss
- If you are exposed to a lot of noise at work
- If you often ask people to repeat themselves
- If others have commented that your television is too loud or that you speak too loudly
- If it is hard for you to follow a conversation when you are in a large group or a noisy place
If your child is being tested, the audiologist may ask about:
- Difficulties with speech and language development
- Other developmental issues
- Difficulty in school
- Health history
- Family history of permanent childhood hearing loss
- Your child’s responses to both familiar and unexpected sounds
Your audiologist will likely:
- Examine the outer ear for deformities
- Examine the ear canal and eardrum with an otoscope (a hand-held instrument equipped with a light and a magnifying lens)
Description of Test
There are several types of audiometry, including:
For Adults and Older Children
Pure Tone Audiometry
This test usually takes place in a soundproof booth. You will put on headphones hooked to an audiometer. This is a device that sends sounds of different volumes and pitches to one ear at a time. You will be asked to respond, most likely by raising your hand, each time you hear a sound.
You may also be asked to wear a special instrument, called a bone oscillator, behind each ear. The device sends sounds as vibrations directly to the inner ear. You will again be asked to respond each time you hear a sound.
You will wear special headphones. You will hear simple, two-syllable words. Words will be sent to one ear at a time, at different volume levels. You will be asked to repeat each word back or point to a picture.
Impedance Audiometry (Tympanometry)
A probe is inserted into your ear. The device changes the air pressure in your ear and emits sounds. The test measures how much your eardrum moves in response to the air pressure change and the sounds. It can help determine how well the middle ear is functioning and if there is fluid in it.
For Infants and Toddlers
Babies are watched to see how they react to certain sounds.
Visual Reinforcement Audiometry
Children are taught to look toward the source of a sound.
Conditioned Play Audiometry
Older children are given a fun version of the pure tone audiometry test. Sounds of varying volume and pitch are sent through headphones to one ear at a time. Children are asked to do something with a toy, like drop a block in a bucket, each time they hear a sound.
Your test results are recorded on an audiogram. This is a chart or graph that shows the softest sounds you can hear. The audiologist will explain your test results.
How Long Will It Take?
Testing times vary. An initial screening may take only 5-10 minutes. A more detailed hearing test may take up to an hour.
Will It Hurt?
There is no pain associated with these tests.
American Academy of Audiology
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
My Baby’s Hearing Home Page
Boys' Town National Research Hospital
Canadian Academy of Audiology
All about hearing loss: what is an audiogram? Boys' Town National Research Hospital website. Available at: http://www.babyhearing.org/HearingAmplification/HearingLoss/audiogram.asp. Accessed August 21, 2005.
Assistive technology. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/treatment/assist_tech.htm. Accessed August 23, 2005.
Audiogram and ENG. Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center College of Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hmc.psu.edu/healthinfo/a/audiogram.htm. Accessed August 23, 2005.
Audiology fact sheet. National Institutes of Health, Medline Plus website. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003341.htm. Accessed August 21, 2005.
Frequently asked questions on newborn hearing screening and testing. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/ehdi/FAQ/questionscreening.htm. Accessed August 23, 2005.
Hearing assessment. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/testing/assess.htm. Accessed August 21, 2005.
Hearing screening. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/testing/. Accessed August 21, 2005
Medical encyclopedia: tympanometry. National Institutes of Health, Medline Plus website. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003390.htm. Accessed August 24, 2005.
Mehr AS. Understanding your audiogram. American Academy of Audiology website. Available at: http://www.audiology.org/consumer/guides/uya.php. Accessed August 22, 2005.
Types of hearing tests. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/info/ent/procedure/hearing-tests.htm. Accessed August 22, 2005.
Last reviewed November 2009 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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