Hearing tests may be performed for any of the two following reasons:
- As a developmental check carried out on babies or young children to evaluate the development of their hearing sensitivity.
- To test the hearing of a person who is suffering from hearing difficulties.
Our ears are the most susceptible part of the body that enables us to hear. It is has three main parts:
- the outer ear
- the middle ear
- the inner ear
The sound that we hear is entered into the ear through the outer ear and goes down to the ear canal into the eardrum. The eardrum is an emaciated coating of tissue that disconnects the middle ear from the outer ear. The ear drum vibrates because of the sound which goes into the middle ear.
Hammer, anvil and stirrup are the three bones that pick up and transmit the sound movements to the inner part of the ear from the middle ear.
Cochlea is inside the inner ear. It is a fluid-filled cavity, responsible for the hearing function of the ear. The vestibular system which is the balance organ is also contained in the inner ear. The small nerves inside the cochlea undergo movement due to the vibrations occurring in the inner ear. These vibrations in the nerves convert into electrical signals, which travel to the brain through the auditory nerve.
Now, impairment in hearing takes place when there is a defect in any of the parts of your ear. For example, an infection in the middle ear or the outer ear or blockage in the ear canal can cause hearing loss. This kind of hearing loss occurring in outer or middle ear is called as conductive hearing loss. However, this type of hearing loss is mostly short-term and recoverable. Any defect in any of the parts of the ears can cause hearing loss, which should be checked by an audiologist.
Hearing tests are simple procedures, which are carried out to confirm which kind of hearing loss is taking place in the ears of a person. Various kinds of tests are conducted to check the condition and functioning of ears. These are also meant to identify various levels of sound. There are two tests, which are performed to evaluate the hearing sensitivity of infants and babies.
They are as follows:
- Otoacoustic emissions test (OAE)
- auditory brainstem response test (ABR)
To conduct hearing tests on older children and adults, a particular equipment is used, which is known as an audiogram. The test which is performed is called an audiogram, and it is used to record how well a person can hear sounds occurring at different pitches.