Hearing TestsMay 15, 2017
People with suspected hearing loss undergo a behavioral hearing test known as the pure tone audiometry. This test explores the steadiness and intensity of the hearing loss and is administered by a hearing care specialist. Results of the test are reported through an audiogram which depicts the pure tone threshold (PTT) of the participant. The PTT indicates the lowest level of sound that was successfully heard by the participant half the time. By the end of the test your hearing care professional will identify the actual extent of your hearing loss as well as whether your hearing loss affects only one of your ears or both of them.
PTT is a painless process that involves sitting in a sound-resistant room and wearing a set of headphones. During the test you will be exposed to various sounds playing at various volumes as well as frequencies into one ear at a time. You will be requested to signal each time you successfully hear a sound by raising your hand or pressing a specific button.
Hearing tests such as the PTT provide the first step towards exploring hearing loss in new patients. The results of the PTT are accurate in terms of the actual measurement of your hearing impairment, but they do not provide the cause of the hearing loss. This is why additional tests might be recommended by your hearing care specialist to identify the type as well as the cause of the hearing impairment.
The PTT indicates the extent of hearing loss as per the following levels:
Mild hearing loss ranges from 26 decibels (dB) to 40dB and results in only a minor interference in hearing. This means that the person with mild hearing loss can function well without using hearing aids and they may face only a brief loss of attention or tiredness after long periods of focused listening. People with mild hearing loss may also have difficulty in comprehending speech that is delivered in a soft tone of voice.
Moderate hearing loss ranges from 41dB to 55dB and can impact the development of lingual skills if it exists from childhood. Moderate hearing loss has also been linked to reduced self-esteem and social problems since people with this type of hearing loss might have difficulty understanding and interacting in regular conversational speech.
Moderately severe hearing loss ranges from 56dB to 70dB and refers to people who have difficulty hearing majority of conversational speech spoken at a regular volume. These people may also have a lack of clarity in their own speech due to the hearing loss.
Severe hearing loss ranges from 71dB to 90dB and impacts those who are unable to hear conversations that are taking place at loud volumes. Such people tend to have increased trouble with their speech clarity, especially if their hearing impairment occurred during an early stage in their life.
Profound hearing loss ranges above 90dB and refers to the incapacity to hear any sound whatsoever at any given level.