A hearing test is a procedure conducted to determine a person's ability to assess how well they can detect certain frequencies. The test is trying to determine the lowest tone that the person can hear. The test may also include a speech component to make sure that the results are accurate. It is conducted by an audiologist, who is a trained medical professional.
The hearing test will likely include a session where the person being examined sits in a soundproof booth. He or she may be asked to wear a set of headphones. A series of sound are played inside the booth, and the person is asked to press a button or raise their hand to indicate they have heard the sound. The sounds are played at a number of different decibels and the audiologist tracks which ones the person can hear by using a graph. Once the hearing test has been completed, the audiologist will be able to tell which frequencies the person is having trouble hearing and diagnose the extent of hearing loss, if any.
The speech portion of the hearing test involves having the person listen to words and repeat them back to the audiologist. This helps to clear up any inaccuracies in the testing process, since the person being examined may be straining to hear at certain frequencies and indicate they have heard a sound when they haven't been able to do so. The speech test may also indicate whether the sounds made by combining specific letters are difficult for the person to hear.
The audiologist will also want to conduct a physical examination of the ear structure to determine whether it is normal as part of a hearing test. A probe is placed in the ear to measure the amount of air pressure in the ear canal. An abnormal level of air pressure may indicate a problem with the structure or functioning of the ear drum.
A buildup of fluid in the ear canal can contribute to hearing problems as well. The audiologist will examine the ear to ensure that fluid is not present during the hearing test process. Antibiotics may be needed to treat fluid in the inner ear.
The hearing test results will either confirm that the person has a normal range of hearing or indicate some level of hearing loss. The information gleaned from charting the different frequencies can be used to offer appropriate treatment for the loss, such as hearing aids.