The terms “hearing screening” and “hearing testing” are often tossed around interchangeably. While they do have similarities, they are not one and the same.
Keep reading to learn about the exact difference between hearing screening and hearing testing and which one may be appropriate for you.
A hearing screening is a quick preliminary test that gauges a patient’s ability to hear. The results of a hearing screening will tell the specialist whether the patient needs in-depth hearing testing.
Babies usually undergo a hearing screening after birth. There are two types of hearing screenings for newborns and infants: otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) and auditory brainstem response (ABR).
- To perform an OAE test, the doctor inserts a tiny, flexible plug into the baby’s outer ear canal to assess how well the inner ear (cochlea) works.
- To perform an ABR test, the doctor places electrodes on the infant’s head and inserts earphones into the outer ear canal to measure how their hearing nerve responds to sounds.
Pure-tone audiometry is a type of hearing screening done in children and adults. During the procedure, the patient is instructed to wear a headphone and raise their hand if they hear a beeping sound. Pure-tone audiometry can identify hearing loss at specific frequencies.
It is recommended that children get a hearing screening every few years. For adults, the recommendation is once every 10 years beginning at the age of 50. However, doctors’ recommendations may change from patient to patient.
If you pass a hearing screening, it means no further testing is necessary.
A hearing test is a more thorough type of hearing evaluation, and it consists of various subtests, which are geared toward gaining insight into the type and severity of a patient’s hearing loss. A hearing test may involve a bone conduction audiometry, tympanometry, or speech audiometry, each of which is discussed below:
- During a bone conduction audiometry test, the doctor makes use of a bone oscillator. It is worn like a headband over the head and with a small box that is placed behind the ear. The box will vibrate and send pure tonal sounds directly into the inner ear. The bone conduction audiometry test will reveal a problem in the inner, middle, and outer ear.
- During a tympanometry test, the doctor places a soft plug in your ear. The plug will vibrate and make sounds to test how you respond to them. This tests the function of the middle ear and eardrum and whether you have fluid or wax buildup or a perforated eardrum.
- A speech test, also called speech audiometry, is used to determine problems with hearing and identifying speech. It involves two different tests: speech reception threshold (SRT) and speech discrimination test (also called word test). A speech reception threshold test is used to quantify the patient’s threshold for hearing speech, while a speech discrimination test evaluates a person’s ability to comprehend speech amid background noise.
If you suspect a hearing problem, your primary care doctor will give you a referral to see an otolaryngologist, also referred to as an ears, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist, who can perform a hearing screening, then hearing tests, depending on the results.
Hearing Testing in Georgetown, TX
At Georgetown ENT, our highly qualified hearing specialists offer comprehensive testing and effective treatment for all types of hearing loss in adults and pediatric patients, enabling them to live well with their condition.