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.

Reasons for Test

This test is done to detect or monitor hearing loss.

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.

Speech Audiometry

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

Behavioral Audiometry

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.

After Test

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.


If test results confirm hearing loss, your doctor will talk to you about treatment options.

Call Your Doctor

After the test, call your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • You experience continued or severe dizziness
  • You notice additional hearing loss
  • You experience pain

In case of an emergency, CALL 911.