If you have some difficulty hearing and you need to visit an audiologist you might have some anxieties over what to expect. If you've never had hearing issues before you won't have any idea about audiologist practices. In this article we take you through the most common hearing tests and what you can expect to encounter. 

Otoscopy testing 

If you find that your hearing has declined recently it's time to seek advice from an audiologist. But just because you get a hearing test doesn't always mean you need a hearing device, sometimes the causes are more mundane. 

The first thing your audiologist will do is perform an otoscope test. Using an otoscope, they will examine your inner ear. An otoscope is a tool the size and shape of your ear canal, it allows your audiologist to check for wax buildup and foreign objects. 

Tympanometry testing 

Following an otoscopy test your audiologist might perform a tympanometry test to check the function of the middle part of the ear. Your middle ear is where the eardrum is located, this is a thin membrane which helps send sound waves to the inner ear and protect it from infection. 

Your audiologist will test to see is the eardrum is working properly by applying a tiny amount of pressure to it. Based on its response the audiologist will be able to ascertain if the membrane is healthy and unimpeded. 

Auditory brainstem response (ABR)

It might seem as if you hear because there are sound waves coming into your ears, but it's not quite as simple as that. The brain has more complex processes that require electrical signals. When sound waves reach the inner ear, they must be translated into neurological impulses. 

This process takes place in a region of the ear called the cochlea is a snail shaped component of the inner ear that turns sound waves into electrical signals. The ABR test uses electrodes placed on the head to test if this process is functioning normally. 

Audiometry test 

If and when it's established that you have some level of hearing loss, you might take part in an audiometry test. This is a test designed to establish what frequencies you can hear. Of all the common hearing tests this is the least invasive. 

You will be asked to enter a quiet room and wear a pair of noise cancelling headphones. The audiologist will then play a series of tones at different frequencies. You will be asked to indicate which tones you can hear and which you can't. This data will be used to calibrate a hearing device.  

Speech test 

One common alternative to the audiometry test is the speech test, this is sometimes used in combination with other hearing tests to ascertain your abilities to hear ordinary conversation. Like the audiometry test you will be asked to enter a quiet room and wear noise cancelling headphones. 

Sometimes your audiologist will talk to you at different levels, other times you will be asked to listen to speech. Depending on the rest there may be some background noise introduced to mimic a real-life environment. Again, this data is used to check your hearing potential or calibrate your device.