Audiometry is a test that measures how well you can hear. This test is performed by an audiologist. An audiologist is a person trained to identify and help manage hearing problems.
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This test is done to detect or monitor hearing loss.
There are no major complications associated with this procedure.
Your audiologist may ask you:
When your hearing difficulty beganIf it affects one ear or both earsIf you hear ringing in your earsIf you have ever had pain or discomfort in your earsIf there has been any recent drainage from your earsIf you have ever had ear infectionsIf you have ever had an ear injuryIf you have ever had ear surgeryIf you ever have dizzinessIf there is a family history of hearing lossIf you are exposed to a lot of noise at workIf you often ask people to repeat themselvesIf others have commented that your television is too loud or that you speak too loudlyIf it is hard for you to understand 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 developmentOther developmental issuesDifficulty in schoolHealth historyFamily history of permanent childhood hearing lossYour child’s responses to both familiar and unexpected sounds
Your audiologist will likely:
Examine the outer ear for deformitiesExamine the ear canal and eardrum with an otoscope, which is a hand-held instrument that has a light and a magnifying lens
There are several types of audiometry, including:
This test usually takes place in a soundproof booth. You will put on headphones that are connected to an audiometer. This device sends sounds of different volumes and pitches to 1 ear at a time. You will be asked to respond each time you hear a sound. You may be asked to respond by raising your hand.
You may also be asked to wear a special instrument called a bone oscillator. It is worn 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, 2-syllable words. Words will be sent to 1 ear at a time at different volume levels. You will be asked to repeat each word or point to a picture.
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.
Babies are watched to see how they react to certain sounds.
Children are taught to look toward the source of a sound.
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 each time they hear a sound. They may be asked to drop a block in a bucket.
Newborns and young infants may have brain stem auditory response testing. A sound is sent through headphones to one ear at a time. The response is measured using electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings over the
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.
Testing times vary. A first screening may take only 5-10 minutes. A more detailed hearing test may take up to an hour.
There is no pain associated with these tests.
Your doctor will talk to you about treatment options if your test results confirm that you have hearing loss.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur after the test: You experience continued or severe lightheadednessYou notice additional hearing lossYou experience pain
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
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 JNune 20, 2016.
Brender E, Burke A. Audiometry.
Hearing assistive technology. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at:
http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/treatment/assist_tech.htm. Accessed June 20, 2016.
Hearing screening and testing. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at:
http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/testing/assess.htm. Accessed June 20, 2016.
Types of hearing tests. Cincinnati Children’s website. Available at:
http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/h/hearing-tests. Updated April 2016. Accessed June 20, 2016.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
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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