A properly performed hearing test is an accurate means to evaluate a person’s sense of hearing. Testing is usually performed by a licensed audiologist with an audiometer.
The standard hearing test is performed in a soundproof room. An audiometer produces tones at selected frequencies and volumes to each ear independently. During a test a sound is created and the patient will indicate if they can hear it by pressing a button or raising a hand. The audiologist records the results for a range of sound frequencies. A normal ear can hear sounds less than 25 dB at each frequency between 250 Hz and 8000 Hz.
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 typically administered. In this test, a device is used to send sound waves through the bone of the skull directly to the inner ear, the cochlea. 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 auditory pathways/cortex of the brain).
he audiologist may also conduct speech tests, wherein the patient is presented simple words. In addition, a tympanogram is generally performed. In this test, a small probe is placed in the ear and the air pressure in the ear canal is varied. This test measures motion of the eardrum and the pressure within the middle ear.