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Audiometry Test - Types, and Risks

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An audiometry test is a non-invasive method of assessing an individual’s capacity to hear. Read the article to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Akshay. B. K.

Published At May 16, 2023
Reviewed AtSeptember 12, 2023

Introduction

Individuals may experience age-related hearing issues with time. The audiometry test is performed to assess hearing issues in infants and adults. It helps to evaluate the individual’s capacity to respond to sound and to check for any block or damage to the inner ear. The audiometry test is the golden standard for measuring the individual's capability to hear different sounds.

What Is an Audiometry Test?

It is a type of hearing test that helps measure an individual’s capability to hear different sounds and frequencies is called the audiometry test. The test is specifically performed by a specialist using special equipment. It is useful in diagnosing hearing loss or other hearing problems. In this test, the individual is asked to wear headphones, in which a range of sounds at different frequencies and volumes are played to evaluate the hearing capacity of an individual.

What Is Normal Audiometry?

A test in which an individual is able to hear sounds within the normal ranges of frequency and volume is called normal audiometry. The test results are usually plotted on an audiogram, which is in the form of a graph that displays the individual’s hearing threshold at various frequencies. In a normal audiogram, the hearing thresholds are within the typical range without any significant gaps or reductions in hearing ability. However, normal can differ based on the factors like age, health, and occupation of an individual. Hence it is important to consult an audiologist for a professional interpretation of test results.

How Is the Audiometry Test Performed?

The audiologist may test the hearing of an individual, which is usually performed in the office. It includes completing a questionnaire and listening to tuning forks, whispered voices, and tones of an ear examination scope. The audiometry test is performed in a quiet room. The following is a general outline of the steps involved in an audiometry test:

  • The individual is asked to sit in a soundproof booth or room and is asked to wear headphones.

  • The audiologist presents a series of sounds at various frequencies and volumes via headphones.

  • The individual indicates whether they are able to hear each sound by either pressing the button or raising their hand.

  • The test is recorded by the audiologist, and the results are plotted on an audiogram.

  • The test is repeated for both ears to check the accuracy.

What Are the Types of Audiometry Tests?

There are several types of audiometry test which includes the following:

  • Pure-tone Audiometry - In pure tone audiometry, the individual’s ability to measure sound frequencies (pitch) at specific decibel levels are evaluated. It uses headphones, and diagnostic equipment called an audiometer, to present the sounds to the person being tested. The person signals when they hear a sound, and the results are plotted on an audiogram to assess the type and degree of hearing loss. A bone oscillator may also be used to test bone conduction by placing it against the mastoid bone.

  • Speech Audiometry - The test mainly focuses on the ability to detect and repeat spoken words at different volumes. It is a type of hearing test that measures the ability to understand speech. This test evaluates the individual’s speech reception threshold, which is the softest level of speech that can be understood, and also assesses the person’s ability to understand speech in noisy environments.

  • Impedance Audiometry - This ear test measures the movement of the eardrum in response to changes in air pressure. It uses a small probe that is placed in the ear and generates sound waves. The probe additionally measures the changes in air pressure, and movement of the eardrum caused due to sound waves. The test results help to evaluate the functions of the middle ear and also determine any blockages caused by the fluid, perforated eardrum, or foreign objects. This test is usually performed in conjunction with other types of hearing tests, like pure-tone audiometry and speech audiometry, to get a complete picture of an individual’s hearing abilities.

  • Otoacoustic Emission - It is a type of hearing test that measures the sounds that are naturally produced by the inner ear or cochlea in response to sound stimulation. In this test, a small probe is placed in the ear, and a series of sounds are presented. The probe measures the sounds that are emitted by the cochlea in response to the stimulation. The results of the test help to determine the functions of the inner ear and if there are damages in the hair cell and cochlea, which are responsible for transmitting sound signals to the brain. The tests are quick and non-invasive and may not require any response from the person being tested. It is especially useful in infants and young children.

  • Auditory Brainstem Response Test - This test measures the electrical activity of the auditory nerve and brainstem in response to sound stimulation. It uses small electrodes placed in the skin to detect the electrical activity of the auditory nerve and brainstem. The test is often used to diagnose hearing loss in newborns and young children. It also evaluates the function of the auditory nerve in individuals with acoustic neuroma.

How Long Does an Audiometry Take?

The duration of the test can typically range from 30 minutes to an hour, and the individual is usually requested to remain still and quiet during the test. The test results are helpful in diagnosing various hearing problems, monitoring changes in hearing over time and guiding the development of a treatment plan.

Are There Any Risks Involved in Audiometry Tests?

Audiometry tests are usually safe and non-invasive. There are no serious risks associated. Some individuals may experience minor discomforts like the fullness of the ear or temporary hearing loss. However, these side effects are temporary and resolve on their own.

Conclusion

An audiometry test is a simple and non-invasive method used to evaluate the hearing ability of an individual. There are different types of audiometry tests that help to evaluate the damage that occurred at different levels. Depending on the test results, the doctor may suggest using hearing aids, a piece of medical equipment that helps to amplify sound according to the individual’s need. Testing the ears with audiometry and diagnosing hearing issues can help to suggest treatment promptly.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

What Is the Normal Audiometry Test Range?

Normal audiometry test range depends on the type of test and the individual's age. For adults, pure tone audiometry is a common test measuring the lowest sound an individual can hear. The normal range for the test is 25 decibels.

2.

When Is the Audiometry Test Conducted?

Audiometry tests can be done routinely to analyze hearing health or possible ear problems. The testing frequency depends on the age, occupation, and underlying disease. Children can undergo audiometry tests at birth, before schooling, and every few years. Adults must undergo audiometry tests at least once in ten years.

3.

Who Should Undergo Audiometry Tests?

The following individuals need audiometry tests:
- Individuals presenting with signs of hearing loss such as difficulty hearing, ringing sound in ears, or ear pain.
- Individuals exposed to loud noise frequently or working in noisy environments.
- Individuals with a family history of ear disease or hearing loss.
- Individuals that have tumors close to their ears, which hampers hearing.

4.

Can Hearing Tests Be Done Frequently?

Hearing tests measure the individual sound hearing ability by determining high-pitch and low-pitch hearing ability and the sound loudness. There is no harm in undergoing the test frequently. Individuals working in noisy environments are advised to take frequent hearing tests.

5.

What Is the Difference Between an Audiogram and an Audiometry?

Audiometry is a test that measures an individual's ability to hear different sounds at various volumes and frequencies. An audiogram is a graph that presents the results of audiometry testing. Healthcare providers can analyze the type and degree of hearing loss from audiograms.

6.

Does an Audiometry Test Cause Pain?

Audiometry tests are painless and non-invasive tests to measure hearing ability. The individual being tested hears the sound through headphones or earplugs. Most individuals tolerate the test well; the procedure is completed in 20 to 30 minutes.

7.

What Is the Normal Range for Hearing?

For humans, the normal hearing range is from 20 to 20,000 Hertz. Any sound over 85 decibels is damaging to the ears. Therefore, hearing such loud sounds must be avoided. As individual reaches middle age, their sound hearing ability drops to 14,000 Hertz.

8.

How to Prepare for a Hearing Test?

Individual ears must be clean, but using cotton swabs is not recommended. Caffeine or other stimulants must be avoided before the test. Individuals can undergo the test in a quiet place without distractions. If any symptoms develop during the test, it must be recorded.

9.

What Is the Duration of Time Taken for a Full Hearing Test?

The time taken for the test can vary depending on the type of test. A regular audiometry test can take around 30 minutes, whereas a full hearing assessment takes about 75 minutes. The results of the test are available immediately after the test.

10.

How to Detect Conductive Hearing Loss?

Conductive hearing loss arises when a problem develops transferring sound waves through the outer and middle ear. Tympanometry (hearing loss test), acoustic reflex, or imaging scan can be used to diagnose conductive hearing loss. Muffled hearing or a feeling of fullness in the ear are some of the symptoms of conductive hearing loss.

11.

How Much Time Does an Audiometry Test Take?

Audiometry test measures the ability of the individual to hear various sounds. The basic hearing screening test takes 15 to 30 minutes. However, a detailed audiometry test requires around one hour. The time required for the test can vary depending on the individual.

12.

What Are the Differentiating Features of Hearing Tests and Audiograms?

The hearing test measures an individual's ability to hear specific volume and sound frequencies. Audiograms provide visual documents of the test. The degree and configuration of hearing loss are analyzed through the test type.

13.

How Is a Pure Tone Audiometry Test Performed?

Individuals undergoing the test wear headphones and listen to sound directed to each ear at a time. The individual may be asked to raise their hand or push a button upon hearing a sound. With this test type and degree of hearing loss can be assessed.
 

14.

What Is the Main Aim of Hearing Protection?

The main purpose of hearing protection is to prevent noise-induced hearing loss by preventing noise from reaching the inner ear.  Hearing protection devices include ear plugs or ear muffs. These are wearable devices that prevent noises from damaging the inner ear.

15.

What Are the Benefits of Audiometry Testing?

The benefits are:
- It identifies potential safety issues in the workplace before several employees develop ear problems.
- The test can determine the cause of hearing loss and help plan treatment.
- Diagnose early signs of noise-induced hearing loss.
Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. Akshay. B. K.
Dr. Akshay. B. K.

Otolaryngology (E.N.T)

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