Best Hearing Test Centers
A hearing test provides an evaluation of the sensitivity of a person’s sense of hearing and is most often performed using an audiometer. An audiometer is used to determine a person’s hearing sensitivity at different frequencies. There are other hearing tests as well, e.g.,Weber test and Rinne test.
An audiometer hearing test is usually administered to a person sitting in a soundproof booth wearing a set of headphones which is connected to an audiometer. Small foam insert earphones placed in the ears may also be used. The audiometer produces tones at specific frequencies and set volume levels to each ear independently. People having their hearing tested will convey that they have heard the tone by either raising a hand or pressing a button. As the test progresses, the audiologist or hearing aid specialist, plots points on a graph where the frequency is on the x-axis and the loudness on the y-axis. Once each frequency of hearing ability is tested and plotted, the points are joined by a line so that one can see at a glance which frequencies are not being heard normally and what degree of hearing loss may be present. Normal hearing at any frequency is a sound pressure of 20 dBSPL or quieter; with worsening hearing as the number increases.
Weber and Rinne
A complete hearing evaluation involves several other tests as well. In order to determine what kind of hearing loss is present, a bone conduction hearing test is administered. In this test, a vibrating tuning fork is placed behind the ear, on the mastoid process. When the patient can no longer feel/hear the vibration, the tuning fork is held in front of the ear; the patient should once more be able to hear a ringing sound. If they cannot, there is conductive hearing loss in that ear. Additionally, the tuning fork is placed on the forehead. The patient is then asked if the sound is localised in the centre of the head or whether it is louder in either ear. If there is conductive hearing loss, it is likely to be louder in the affected ear; if there is sensorineural hearing loss, it will be quieter in the affected ear. This test helps the audiologist determine whether the hearing loss is conductive (caused by problems in the outer or middle ear) or sensorineural (caused by problems in the cochlea, the sensory organ of hearing) or neural – caused by a problem in the auditory nerve or auditory pathways/cortex of the brain.
Newborns and Infants
Today, most hospitals screen babies’ hearing shortly after they are born. Failing the hearing screening does not necessarily mean that the baby has a hearing loss. Not all babies pass the hearing screening the first time. Infants who do not pass a screening are usually given a second screening to confirm the findings.
Older Children and Adults
In the case of older children and adults, the most commonly used initial screen involves a pure-tone test. School age children should be screened periodically through their school. Adults are often screened at their doctor’s office or community health fairs.