What Happens During a Hearing Exam

Hearing loss can creep up on an individual. It is difficult for a person to realize what he or she may be missing.

Usually friends and family prompt someone to get a hearing test. They notice that the person appears unaware of normal activity or asks people to repeat themselves too often.

Compared to other medical exams, hearing tests are relatively comfortable for the patient. People can find a place to get a hearing test by looking for an audiology clinic in their areas. Many people are probably familiar with Miracle-Ear clinics because of their numerous locations.

During an assessment three types of hearing tests are typically applied.

Bone Conduction Test

Part of the biological hearing process involves the three bones of the inner ear called the malleus, incus, and stapes. The bone conduction test seeks to determine if the tiny bones are still functioning to conduct sound.

A person might feel like he or she is a piano being tuned during this test. The audiologist will use tuning forks. A fork will be placed behind the ear close to the skull. Then the fork will be moved out in front of the ear. The patient will be asked if and when the vibrating fork is heard or felt. Additionally a fork may be placed on the forehead. The patient will then determine if he or she only feels it in the middle of the head or hears it inside the ears.

The results of this test show if the inner ear bones are the source of the hearing problem. Even if they are performing well, hearing loss can still be present. The problem could be in the cochlea, which is an organ that senses the sound waves. Other sources of the problem could be in the auditory nerves or the brain’s ability to interpret sound.

The Hearing in Noise Test

This test measures a patient’s ability to hear and speak when exposed to various levels of noise. The patient will listen to sentences and then repeat them back to the technician. The first round is done in total quiet. Then noise is added from the front, the left, and then the right.

The results measure how loudly the sentences needed to be played for the individual to hear them well enough to repeat them. This is known as the signal to noise ratio.


To perform a tympanogram a probe is put inside the ear. It issues bursts of air at various pressures. The results reveal whether there is possible damage to the eardrum, also known as the tympanic membrane.

Depending on a person’s medical circumstances, other tests might be done. For example, there is also a speech test. Recorded words are played at various levels, and the patient must attempt to repeat them accurately.

Although no one wants his or her hearing to diminish, there is nothing to gain by ignoring the problem. Many types of hearing aids help people. Some are worn on the outside whereas others are almost completely concealed inside the ear.

The nature of a person’s hearing loss determines which type of appliance would produce ideal results.