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What is a Hearing Test?

Hearing test in sound booth

A hearing test evaluates your hearing ability and sound sensitivity. Hearing tests are a way for hearing healthcare providers to measure your hearing across the full range of speech, testing a wide range of sounds from the quietest to loudest in frequency. Often times, a hearing test is the first step in identifying hearing loss.

Want some answers now? Take this quick online hearing test to determine if it’s time for you to make a hearing appointment.

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What Happens at a Hearing Test?

If you visit a hearing healthcare professional for your hearing test, they will perform an in depth exam of your ears and hearing ability. First, your provider will look inside your ears with an otoscope and check to see if there is any earwax build up or ear infection (if there is then that must be removed before the hearing test). Afterward, they will ask you how long you have been having trouble hearing, and what kinds of sounds are difficult for you.

The hearing portion of the test takes 20-30 minutes. You will be presented with a series of sounds through headphones at different frequencies. Every time you hear the sound, or the beep, you must raise your hand. This is done one ear at a time, and will show what level of frequencies you can hear, as well as how severe your hearing loss is.

Hearing Test Results

The results of your hearing test will be laid out in an audiogram, a visual representation of your hearing ability. Sound is measured in two ways on the audiogram. Volume or level is measured in decibels (dB), and low and high pitches or frequencies are measured in hertz (Hz).

Hearing tests aren’t pass or fail. They will determine which ear(s) your hearing loss is present in and how severe the hearing loss is. Hearing loss is typically measured in decibels, and adults with hearing up to 25 decibels have normal hearing, anything above 25 decibels is a degree of hearing loss.

  • Mild hearing loss: 26-40 dB
  • Moderate hearing loss: 41-55 dB
  • Moderate-to-severe hearing loss: 56-70 dB
  • Severe hearing loss: 71-90 dB
  • Profound hearing loss: 91-100 dB

Hearing loss often occurs gradually, so you may have mild or moderate hearing loss and don’t even notice it. The hearing test will let your provider determine how severe your hearing loss is and what the best treatment plan will be.

Next Steps after a Hearing Test

If your hearing test shows that you have any degree of hearing loss, it is best to find a treatment option right away. Even if your hearing loss is only mild, it can continue to worsen over time and affect your overall health and well-being. Untreated hearing loss can lead to other serious health conditions such as cognitive decline, dementia, and balance issues. If your hearing test shows hearing loss then it is best to talk with your hearing healthcare professional to find the right solution for your hearing loss.

Take a 3-minute hearing test!

Read the following statements and select “yes” if they apply to you most of the time, “sometimes” if they apply once in a while, and “no” if they don't apply at all.

I have trouble hearing the other person on the phone.


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