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Types of Hearing Tests

Types of Hearing Tests

When you have an appointment with the audiologist for a hearing test, there will be a number of tests performed. That’s because audiologists use different types of tests to get a clear picture of your ability to hear. The audiologist will use these tests to determine how well the different components of your ears are functioning and what can be done to enhance the hearing you still have. Here are the types of hearing tests you can expect.

Pure-tone audiometry

This key hearing test measures audibility thresholds. The audiologist will test each ear independently, to determine the softest sound you can hear at different frequencies. You’ll be asked to make a signal when you hear a tone. The results will be charted on an audiogram.

Speech recognition testing

In addition to assessing your ability to hear pure tones, the audiologist will determine your ability to hear and process speech. A speech recognition threshold test quantifies the faintest speech you can hear half the time. Speech recognition testing is performed with and without background noise to simulate real-life hearing situations.


This is a physical exam of the functioning of the middle ear. It is used to determine if you have fluid in the middle ear, a perforated eardrum or excessive wax build-up. It is performed by inserting the tympanometer probe into the ear canal, changing the pressure, emitting a tone and then recording the response of the eardrum at different pressures. This test helps the audiologist determine if hearing loss is conductive or sensorineural. Each ear is tested separately and the results recorded on a tympanogram.

Acoustic reflex threshold

This may be done as part of the tympanometry test or with extratympanic manometry. The audiologist is testing the function of the muscles in the ear that are necessary for hearing. Like tympanometry, this is a test of function to determine if hearing loss is conductive in nature.

Hearing evaluation

The audiologist will review the results of all the hearing tests with you and give you a full evaluation of your hearing. Once the audiologist has a clear picture of how your ears are functioning and what you can and cannot hear they will be able to determine:

  • If you have hearing loss
  • Type of hearing loss
  • Possible causes
  • Treatment options
  • What technology options will work best for you

A complete hearing evaluation takes time, but it is time well spent because it can help you get the most out of the hearing you have.