a hearing specialist is reviewing a patient's audiogram

A hearing test is not something you either pass or fail. It is much more detailed than that. It measures how sensitive a person’s hearing is to a wide range of sound. These tests help determine any hearing loss or sensitivities that can then be addressed. 

How long have hearing tests been around?

Hearing tests have been around for a very long time. Obviously, the first hearing tests and treatments were much different than what we use today. Writings on medical scrolls dating back to 1550 BC talk about treatments for hearing loss. Hippocrates from the 4th century BC was the first doctor to try to find the cause of hearing loss which he believed came from the direction of the winds, weather changes, tinnitus, or skull trauma. 

In about 50 BC, Aulus Cornelius Celsus was the first person to differentiate between different kinds of hearing loss due to foreign objects in the ear, ulcers, or earwax blocking the ear canal. A Roman physician, Arhigenes, in the 1st century AD tried to simulate hearing in those with hearing loss using loud sounds in the auditory system. Similarly, Alexander Tralles in the 4th century AD would blow a trumpet directly into the ear canal to try to stimulate hearing. He also used herbs to treat hearing loss. During the Middle Ages, many exploratory methods of hearing loss treatment were used like speaking softly and suctioning the eardrum. 

No major steps were taken in the development of a hearing test and proper treatment until the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The first instruments used in a hearing test were tuning forks to measure whether the hearing loss was conductive or sensorineural. In 1898, Miller Reese Hutchison was the first person to invent an electronic hearing aid. It was called the Akouphone. In the 1920s, the audiometer was developed to measure hearing loss. That test paved the way for new research and is the basis for the hearing test we use today. 

In the 1940s, noise-induced hearing loss due to warfare technology in World War 2 started to emerge with more frequency, and the word “audiology” first appeared in the Journal of Speech Disorders in 1946. 

Meniere’s disease was differentiated from tumors in 1948 and in the 1950s physiologic measurements to test for hearing loss became routine. In the 1960s the right ear’s influence on processing language was discovered. 

Now there are many ways to receive an audiogram. Babies receive an otoacoustic emissions test that makes sure the ear is naturally responding to sound correctly. 

What to expect during a hearing test

A modern hearing test has several parts. First, the inside of your ear will be examined to make sure there is no physical blockage that will interfere with the test. The hearing instrument specialist will also want to know the history of your hearing and will ask questions about when you started having trouble hearing, any infections or injuries that may have contributed, and the problems you are facing because of hearing loss. 

The main part of the hearing test, the audiogram, will come after that. It will take about thirty minutes to complete. You will wear headphones and will be played a series of sounds at varying frequencies, volumes, and decibels. You simply have to acknowledge when you hear a noise. Each ear will be tested separately because there may be different difficulties from ear to ear. 

Results of a hearing test

The results of the hearing test will be displayed on a chart which will have allowances for frequency (whether a sound is high or low) and decibel (whether a sound is soft or loud). Knowing which sounds are hard for you to hear means a plan can be formulated to help compensate for any hearing loss. 

Depending on the type of hearing loss, the recommendation may be to have a surgery to correct an issue or buy a hearing aid to help increase the amount of speech and sound you can hear. 

How to schedule a hearing test

Anyone who is dealing with hearing loss should make an appointment for a hearing test. Getting tested regularly can mean a higher quality of living and less complications due to hearing loss. The professionals at Stanwood Hearing would love to answer any questions you have, simply call 360-502-4644.