Audiometry Defined: What it is, How it Works, and Why You Need it

Get a Measure of Your Hearing Loss

Curious about how audiometry works and how an audiometry test measures hearing loss? The answer's a bit more complicated than you might expect.

According to Statistics Canada, approximately 54% of Canadians aged 40-79 suffer from at least mild hearing loss. Approximately 19% of adults have at least mild low-frequency hearing loss, and 35% have some amount of high-frequency hearing loss. The majority of these individuals were completely unaware of their hearing loss. 

This is unsurprising. In most cases, hearing impairment comes on gradually. Many people who experience hearing loss are clued in by friends or family.

Because hearing loss, particularly age-related, is so easy to overlook, it's crucial to get your hearing regularly tested. That's where audiometry comes in.  

 

What Is Audiometry?

If your first thought on hearing the term audiometry is how similar it sounds to audiology, that's no accident. Audiometry is actually part of the field of audiology and refers to all the different ways an audiologist might test and measure a patient's hearing. Basically, it's a fancy word for a hearing test

The diagram created from an audiometry exam is known as an audiogram. 

 

When and Why Are Audiometry Exams Performed? 

Regular audiometry exams should be part of your standard healthcare regimen. We recommend scheduling one every three years once you reach adulthood and every year starting at age 55. If you work in a field where you're regularly exposed to noise levels higher than 80 decibels (DB), you may want to schedule more frequent testing. 

Beyond regular testing, audiometry exams may be performed for any of the following reasons, per Healthline

  • To identify and diagnose congenital hearing loss

  • After an injury to the ear or head

  • When a patient or a patient's associates suspect hearing impairment

     

What Are the Most Common Types of Audiometry Exams?

There are many different types of audiometry tests, but they all have one thing in common — they're generally painless and noninvasive. There is no risk of injury, and you don't need to do anything special to prepare for testing. Depending on your unique circumstances, your audiologist may have you undergo one or more of the following: 

Pure-tone 

This is by far the most common type of hearing test, referred to by Science Direct as "a gold standard test of audiologic examination."  Known also as air conduction testing, the purpose of pure tone audiometry is to determine the lowest decibel level you're capable of perceiving across multiple frequencies. For a healthy human ear, this is 0-25 DB. 

As described by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), a pure tone audiometry exam usually involves either headphones or a sound booth. It requires a patient to raise their hand when they hear a beep. 

Speech Testing

Another common type of audiometry exam, speech testing, is exactly what it sounds like. Per the ASHA, it measures something known as the speech reception threshold (SRT). How it works is relatively simple.

Simply repeat the words your audiologist relays to you through your headphones, and they'll record the lowest level you're capable of perceiving. 

Audiometry Brainstem Response (ABR)

Also known as an Auditory Evoked Potential (AEP), the ABR  is frequently used to screen newborns for congenital hearing issues. The audiologist attaches electrodes to a patient's head and then records brainwave activity as the patient is subjected to sounds of varying frequencies and intensity.

In addition to infants, an ABR is also used in scenarios where the audiologist suspects a brain injury or for patients who cannot complete a typical audiometry test. 

Otoacoustic Emission Testing (OAE)

OAE tests use a small probe to determine if a patient's cochlea is functioning as it should. It can diagnose mild to moderate hearing loss, damage to the stereocilia, and blockages. Typically, OAE is used with ABR to screen newborns. 

Tympanometry

Tympanometry is one of a trio of tests used by audiologists to examine the middle ear. As noted by the ASHA, such tests are typically performed on children aged 3-5. In the case of a tympanometry test, the audiologist will insert a small probe in the patient's ear, which then gently stimulates the eardrum with air, measuring the response.

Tympanometry testing can diagnose ear infections, cerumen impaction, and eardrum ruptures.

Acoustic Reflex and Static Acoustic Impedance tests work in a similar fashion. The former emits sound rather than air through the probe, while the latter measures the amount of air present in the ear canal. 

Visual Reinforcement

Visual reinforcement is really just a fancy name for the 'head turn test' used by audiologists to test the hearing of infants six of age or older. The audiologist plays a sound and observes if the infant turns towards the sound's source. 

 

Get Your Hearing Tested Today

Audiometry exams are crucial to staying healthy, particularly as you get older. Best of all, they're completely free — so you really have no reason not to get one.

You can also call, use live chat, or send a message to  schedule an appointment with hearing professionals at one of our trusted clinics today.

Audiometry Defined: What it is, How it Works, and Why You Need it

Get a Measure of Your Hearing Loss

Curious about how audiometry works and how an audiometry test measures hearing loss? The answer's a bit more complicated than you might expect.

According to Statistics Canada, approximately 54% of Canadians aged 40-79 suffer from at least mild hearing loss. Approximately 19% of adults have at least mild low-frequency hearing loss, and 35% have some amount of high-frequency hearing loss. The majority of these individuals were completely unaware of their hearing loss. 

This is unsurprising. In most cases, hearing impairment comes on gradually. Many people who experience hearing loss are clued in by friends or family.

Because hearing loss, particularly age-related, is so easy to overlook, it's crucial to get your hearing regularly tested. That's where audiometry comes in.  

 

What Is Audiometry?

If your first thought on hearing the term audiometry is how similar it sounds to audiology, that's no accident. Audiometry is actually part of the field of audiology and refers to all the different ways an audiologist might test and measure a patient's hearing. Basically, it's a fancy word for a hearing test

The diagram created from an audiometry exam is known as an audiogram. 

 

When and Why Are Audiometry Exams Performed? 

Regular audiometry exams should be part of your standard healthcare regimen. We recommend scheduling one every three years once you reach adulthood and every year starting at age 55. If you work in a field where you're regularly exposed to noise levels higher than 80 decibels (DB), you may want to schedule more frequent testing. 

Beyond regular testing, audiometry exams may be performed for any of the following reasons, per Healthline

  • To identify and diagnose congenital hearing loss

  • After an injury to the ear or head

  • When a patient or a patient's associates suspect hearing impairment

     

What Are the Most Common Types of Audiometry Exams?

There are many different types of audiometry tests, but they all have one thing in common — they're generally painless and noninvasive. There is no risk of injury, and you don't need to do anything special to prepare for testing. Depending on your unique circumstances, your audiologist may have you undergo one or more of the following: 

Pure-tone 

This is by far the most common type of hearing test, referred to by Science Direct as "a gold standard test of audiologic examination."  Known also as air conduction testing, the purpose of pure tone audiometry is to determine the lowest decibel level you're capable of perceiving across multiple frequencies. For a healthy human ear, this is 0-25 DB. 

As described by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), a pure tone audiometry exam usually involves either headphones or a sound booth. It requires a patient to raise their hand when they hear a beep. 

Speech Testing

Another common type of audiometry exam, speech testing, is exactly what it sounds like. Per the ASHA, it measures something known as the speech reception threshold (SRT). How it works is relatively simple.

Simply repeat the words your audiologist relays to you through your headphones, and they'll record the lowest level you're capable of perceiving. 

Audiometry Brainstem Response (ABR)

Also known as an Auditory Evoked Potential (AEP), the ABR  is frequently used to screen newborns for congenital hearing issues. The audiologist attaches electrodes to a patient's head and then records brainwave activity as the patient is subjected to sounds of varying frequencies and intensity.

In addition to infants, an ABR is also used in scenarios where the audiologist suspects a brain injury or for patients who cannot complete a typical audiometry test. 

Otoacoustic Emission Testing (OAE)

OAE tests use a small probe to determine if a patient's cochlea is functioning as it should. It can diagnose mild to moderate hearing loss, damage to the stereocilia, and blockages. Typically, OAE is used with ABR to screen newborns. 

Tympanometry

Tympanometry is one of a trio of tests used by audiologists to examine the middle ear. As noted by the ASHA, such tests are typically performed on children aged 3-5. In the case of a tympanometry test, the audiologist will insert a small probe in the patient's ear, which then gently stimulates the eardrum with air, measuring the response.

Tympanometry testing can diagnose ear infections, cerumen impaction, and eardrum ruptures.

Acoustic Reflex and Static Acoustic Impedance tests work in a similar fashion. The former emits sound rather than air through the probe, while the latter measures the amount of air present in the ear canal. 

Visual Reinforcement

Visual reinforcement is really just a fancy name for the 'head turn test' used by audiologists to test the hearing of infants six of age or older. The audiologist plays a sound and observes if the infant turns towards the sound's source. 

 

Get Your Hearing Tested Today

Audiometry exams are crucial to staying healthy, particularly as you get older. Best of all, they're completely free — so you really have no reason not to get one.

You can also call, use live chat, or send a message to  schedule an appointment with hearing professionals at one of our trusted clinics today.

  

  

  

Do you think you might be suffering from hearing loss? Call or chat today to talk with one of our Hearing Consultants:  

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