Pure Tone Audiometry

Pure-tone audiometry is a behavioral test used to measure hearing sensitivity.

Pure Tone Audiometry

If you have ever wondered how well you can hear, you might have taken a hearing test at some point in your life. One of the most common types of hearing tests is called pure tone audiometry, which measures your hearing sensitivity across different frequencies. Here we will explain what pure tone audiometry is, how it works, and what it can tell you about your hearing health.

What is pure tone audiometry?

Pure tone audiometry is a hearing test that uses pure tones to measure your hearing threshold levels. A pure tone is a sound that has only one frequency, unlike natural sounds that have many frequencies mixed together. For example, a tuning fork produces a pure tone when it vibrates.

A hearing threshold level is the softest sound that you can hear at least 50% of the time. By measuring your hearing threshold levels at different frequencies, pure tone audiometry can determine the degree, type, and configuration of your hearing loss.

How does pure tone audiometry work?

Pure tone audiometry is performed by an audiologist, who is a professional trained in diagnosing and treating hearing disorders. The test usually takes place in a soundproof booth or room, where you wear headphones or earphones connected to an audiometer. An audiometer is a device that generates and controls the pure tones.

The audiologist will play a series of pure tones at different frequencies and volumes to each ear separately. You will be asked to indicate when you hear each tone by pressing a button or raising your hand. The audiologist will record the softest sound that you can hear at each frequency. This will create an audiogram, which is a graph that shows your hearing threshold levels for each ear.

What can pure tone audiometry tell you about your hearing health?

Pure tone audiometry can provide valuable information about your hearing health, such as:

  • The degree of your hearing loss: This refers to how much your hearing ability is reduced compared to normal hearing. Hearing loss can be classified as mild, moderate, severe, or profound depending on how high your hearing threshold levels are.
  • The type of your hearing loss: This refers to which part of your auditory system is affected by the hearing loss. There are two main types of hearing loss: conductive and sensorineural. Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a problem in the outer or middle ear that prevents sound from reaching the inner ear. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or the auditory nerve that carries sound signals to the brain. Sometimes, both types of hearing loss can occur together, which is called mixed hearing loss.
  • The configuration of your hearing loss: This refers to how your hearing loss varies across different frequencies. Some people have more difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds than low-pitched sounds, or vice versa. Some people have a flat hearing loss, which means their hearing ability is equally reduced across all frequencies.

Pure tone audiometry can help you and your audiologist understand your hearing needs and find the best solutions for improving your hearing quality and communication.