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What's Involved in a Hearing Test?

Watch The Hearing Doctors as they walk through a hearing test with the show's host, including testing the outer, middle and inner ears, and going over the results.



What's the process of getting a hearing test? That's our topic for today on Ask The Hearing Doctors.


Hi, I'm Jim Cuddy, and this is Ask The Hearing Doctors. And today I'm joined by Dr. Ana Anzola, and Dr. Wendy Thorne, doctors of audiology with Hearing Doctors, the Washington DC area's highest-rated audiology practice with over 1,500 five-star reviews. And today it's my turn to have the hearing test. So before we get started, a quick rundown of everything we're going to be doing and what we're looking for. 


Yeah. So you're ear consists of three parts. There's an outer ear, middle ear and an inner ear. We're going to test all of those systems. So the very first thing we're going to do is look at your outer ear. So that's your outside of your ear to your eardrum? We do that by looking on a video otoscope, just to make sure everything looks healthy.


The second test we're going to do is test that middle ear. So we put a probe in your ear. It might feel like you're going up in an airplane briefly, and it's just making sure all the middle parts of your ear are moving like they should be. Then the last test is going to be where you're actually in the booth, listening to the beeps and responding, and that's going to test, you know, kind of the whole system, but more specifically that inner ear to see exactly what levels you can hear. And lastly, what we do is, um, measure your abilities to process the information. So it's not just the act of hearing the beeps and tones, but how do you actually process the sound, the words in the presence of background noise.


All right. Shall we get started? All right. All right. So now what, what are we doing here? 


So the first, this is always going to be the first part of the hearing exam. So we are going to take a look in your ear with a video otoscope. So when I put this in your ear, your ear is going to be a big picture on the screen and Ana will talk about all the parts of the ear that we're seeing. 


So it's up there for everybody to see, my ear. Exactly. I'm a little nervous.


Don't get scared. It's magnified 50 times. 


Oh man. All right, let's have at it. 


So this is the entrance or the aperture of the ear cavity. And you see this is the eardrum. This is the first bone that appears right behind the tympanic membrane. This is the cone of light. You see this shiny spot. Good. That's a sign of a nice, healthy eardrum. It's gorgeous. It's perfect. 


Excellent. So what exactly are you looking for when you're looking inside the ear with this scope? 


You know, we always want to first make sure there's not too much wax. Um, you know, if it's completely occluded with wax that can affect the hearing results. We always want to make sure we get very accurate results. We're looking for any, um, a ruptured eardrum, any foreign objects, uh, wax, um, ear infections, anything that should not be there. 


Right. Okay. Now that doesn't, that only goes to say the first third of the ear, is that right? Or...


So up until the eardrum or the tympanic membrane and that's called the outer ear. 


Okay. And then the other fun tests are to get deeper inside my ears. Yeah. 


Then we will be measuring today, the middle ear, the status of the middle ear and how does functioning, and then we'll go ahead and measure the inner ear as well. So now we're going to measure the health of your middle ear. We want to make sure that there was no, um, ruptures or a perforation in the eardrum. We went to make sure that you have a healthy middle ear cavity or that these bones are vibrating the way they should. Okay. That they're not too loose. They're not too stiff. Okay. All right. Here we go. 


All right. So no pain. That was easy enough. How'd I do? Good. You did great. You're good to go. 


All right. So here I am getting my hearing test or about to get my hearing test. And I'm talking to you from this amazing sound booth, which probably makes my audio sound a little bit different. Dr. Wendy is getting ready to start and where do we begin? 


All right. So I'm first going to put these headphones on you or they're called insert. So there are just going to clip to your shirt so they're nice and stable.


Little stability never hurts. 


All right. So I'm going to squeeze these down. So they sit nice and tight in your ear ears. Very painless.


So far. So good. 


So you are going to be hearing some beeps through these. I want you to raise your hand whenever you hear those beeps, even if they're very, very soft. Okay. Okay. All right. Good luck. What? You're about to hear three consecutive beeps, and every time you hear three beeps, say the word yes, or raise your hand. And that tends to measure the degree of loss that you may have. We'll get a graph and we'll go over that later after the hearing test, and then I will place a headband over the mastoid bone, and that will determine what type of hearing loss you may have. After we're done with that, you will then repeat, um, a list of words. And that will determine what is your ability to discriminate speech, even in the presence of noise. 


Alright, cut right to the chase. How did I do?


Actually, not bad? You know, it's, it's pretty good. So we have this tool that will allow me to better represent to you what exactly is happening. Um, well, all the beeps that you heard, you know, we, we measured these types of tones across the board. You hear them? Okay. Then over here we have the measurement of volume in decibels. Okay. So the red consists of the right ear and the left is the blue. Very consistent. 


So we talked about, most people have very, um, symmetrical, you know, hearing or hearing deficit and this, in this case. Um, so this line that you see up here represents what above it is within normal limits and below that it may be hearing deficit. So you're really right on the border. For most of the frequencies. There are 10 frequencies across the board and what we see here, if I turn that on, so you see now what we call, we call this a speech banana, the gray area. So everything in black represents what you actually can hear and then up here there are a few consonants that sometimes you're not able to hear or detect, which is what you were saying earlier.


Sometimes I feel like I'm not hearing certain words. Right. Or with your spouse or perhaps a female voice, soft female voice. Okay. Um, but that's okay. You know, it's still very mild. Um, so I would not really recommend a hearing device at this present moment because most of your speech, or your frequencies rather, um, you're able to hear and detect what you need to. Sometimes I need you to implement those, um, communication strategies that we talked about. When you go to a restaurant, don't just ask for a table, but ask for a booth. Um, when you go into a, um, in the car, we talked about that. Yeah.


We know what works. What's really great for me, after going through all the tests and I'm, I'm happy with the results of course, cause I wasn't really sure. But had you just explained this to me face to face, I don't know that I really would have understood. Now I have a visual. Now I know exactly what you're looking at and I have a much better understanding of where I have some deficiencies and where things are okay.


Yeah, exactly. And this is also good for the spouse or the family member when they come in, so we can better show them what it is that they're able to hear. So for example, if you are listening to speech, somebody with good hearing...


This is your right ear...and that's your left ear.


So the spouse or your loved one can better understand what it is that you're hearing. So it's not so bad. 


It's pretty good. It's pretty sharp. It has the fullness of the whole speech range, but, but then you can then understand what it is that you're missing, and when it's time to do something about it. Yeah. You know, like Dr. Ana was saying, it's great. I think the sound from this is great. So that you're the spouse or your companion can really understand exactly what you are hearing. So it can help them, you know, be a little bit more understanding of where you may have some limitations.


In this tool you're seeing and hearing it. 


Yes. Which is really great. Right. So it, it helps you understand and it helps a family member understand. That's great. Thank you very much for the test. Thank you very much for the good news. Makes sense. Although I have a feeling maybe I'm gonna need to work on th'es and things like that. Yeah. We just want to see you and monitor in one year. So let's do an annual hearing test. Sounds good. Dr. Ana, thank you, Dr. Wendy. Thank you. If you're in the Washington metropolitan area and you'd like to schedule an appointment with Hearing Doctors, click the link in the description or visit

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