Skip to content

What happens at a hearing test?

What happens at a hearing test

What happens at a hearing test?

Your first hearing test might feel a bit scary, not knowing what's coming and worrying about it. But, relax! A hearing test is a simple and painless check done by experts called audiologists. We'll guide you through each step of the process, so you feel more at ease. 

The anxiety you feel is completely normal, but understanding the process can help alleviate those nerves. Audiologists are like friendly navigators in this journey, ensuring you feel comfortable and informed at every turn. So, buckle up for this adventure into the world of hearing tests, where the unknown becomes a familiar path to better hearing.

As we delve into the details, remember that the goal of a hearing test is to provide you with valuable insights into your auditory well-being. By the end of this exploration, you'll not only have a clearer picture of what to expect during a hearing test but also a newfound confidence in facing the unknown with a smile.

What is a hearing test?

Hearing tests, also known as audiometric evaluations, are assessments conducted by audiologists to measure a person's ability to hear sounds. These tests typically involve various techniques and tools to evaluate different aspects of hearing, including pure-tone audiometry, speech audiometry, tympanometry, otoacoustic emissions (OAE) testing, and auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing. During a hearing test, individuals are exposed to sounds of different frequencies and volumes, and their responses are recorded to determine the type, degree, and configuration of any hearing loss. These tests are essential for diagnosing hearing impairments, identifying their causes, and developing appropriate treatment plans, such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, or assistive listening devices.

Why would I need a hearing test?

Some people might suspect they're having trouble hearing if they find it hard to follow conversations in busy places or if others notice they always have the TV volume turned way up. However, not everyone realizes they have a hearing problem because it can happen so gradually. That's why it's a good idea to follow your doctor's advice and have your ears checked regularly, even if you think everything's fine.

Adults can experience hearing loss for many reasons. It could be from being around loud noises at work, like construction sites or factories. Activities such as using lawnmowers or power tools, shooting guns, or attending loud concerts can also contribute. Sometimes, hearing loss can be caused by something as simple as having too much ear wax or getting a knock on the head. Infections, certain medications, or having a family history of hearing problems can also play a role.

When older adults don't address their hearing loss, it can really impact their lives. They might start avoiding social gatherings because they struggle to hear what's going on. Feeling left out can lead to feelings of sadness and loneliness. That's why it's important to seek help if you're having trouble hearing. Getting assistance can improve your quality of life and help you stay connected with the people and activities you love.

Signs that you need a hearing test

  • Difficulty understanding conversations, especially in noisy environments like restaurants or crowded gatherings.
  • Frequently asking others to repeat themselves or misunderstanding what they're saying.
  • Struggling to hear on the phone or needing to turn up the volume on the TV or radio to hear comfortably.
  • Feeling like others are mumbling or not speaking clearly.
  • Avoiding social situations or withdrawing from conversations because it's challenging to follow along.
  • Noticing ringing, buzzing, or other noises in your ears (tinnitus).
  • Having a family history of hearing loss or experiencing sudden changes in your ability to hear.
  • Experiencing dizziness, ear pain, or other symptoms related to your ears.

If you notice any of these signs, it's a good idea to schedule a hearing test with an audiologist to assess your hearing health and address any potential issues.

The Appointment

When you get to the audiologist's office, a friendly receptionist at the front desk will help you with paperwork. You'll talk about your health and any medicines you take. If you have worries about your hearing, share them. This helps the audiologist make the hearing test just right for you. The audiologist wants to understand your needs and concerns so they can help you hear better. This way, your visit is easier, and you can get the best care for your hearing.

Introduction and Discussion

Before the hearing test starts, the audiologist will take some time to have a friendly chat with you about your hearing. This conversation isn't just about paperwork—it's a chance for you to share any concerns or issues you've noticed with your hearing. Maybe you've been struggling to hear conversations in noisy places or have noticed ringing in your ears. 

Whatever it is, the audiologist wants to hear about it so they can tailor the test to address your specific needs. This chat helps create a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere, making the test feel less intimidating and more manageable for you. By understanding your concerns and experiences, the audiologist can provide personalized care and recommendations to help improve your hearing and overall well-being. So, don't be shy—share what's on your mind, and let the audiologist help you take the next steps toward better hearing.


The audiologist might use a small tool called an otoscope to look inside your ears. It's like a tiny flashlight that helps them check for earwax or any problems. The process is quick and painless. The otoscope lets the audiologist see inside your ears and make sure everything is okay. If they find anything unusual, they can talk to you about what to do next.

Pure-Tone Audiometry

Now, let's dive into the main part of the test! You'll put on a comfy pair of headphones, and your audiologist will guide you through the process. It's like playing a game where you listen for different sounds at various volumes. They'll be checking to find the softest sounds you can hear.

The headphones create a quiet and focused space, making it easier to detect even the faintest noises. Don't worry; it's a painless experience, and your audiologist will be right there to assist you every step of the way. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the experience—it's all designed to ensure your hearing is assessed thoroughly and comfortably.

Speech Audiometry

In addition to the tones, you might hear spoken words at different volumes, ranging from whispers to normal speech levels. It's a bit like a talking game or a listening exercise. Your task is to repeat the words out loud, mimicking what you hear through the headphones. No need to stress; just listen carefully and say what you hear—it's as simple as that! Your audiologist will guide you through each step, ensuring that the process is comfortable and stress-free. So, relax and enjoy the verbal challenge as you work together to assess your hearing abilities!


In this part of the test, the audiologist will assess how your eardrum responds to changes in air pressure. It's a way to identify any issues in the middle ear. You might feel a slight sensation, similar to when your ears pop during changes in altitude. Think of it as a drumroll before the final act, a necessary step to gather comprehensive information about your hearing health. Don't worry, It's quick and won't bother you much – just another step to make sure everything about your hearing is checked.

Results and Discussion

Once all the tests are completed, your audiologist will sit down with you to discuss the results in detail. They'll explain how well you can hear and point out any areas of concern, such as specific frequencies or volumes where you may have difficulty. If there are any issues detected, the audiologist will discuss possible causes and treatment options with you.

This conversation is also your chance to ask questions and learn more about your hearing health. Don't hesitate to inquire about anything you don't understand or want more information about. Your audiologist is there to help you navigate your results and make informed decisions about your hearing care.

Together, you and your audiologist can develop a plan tailored to your individual needs, whether it involves further testing, hearing aids, assistive listening devices, or other interventions. By actively participating in this discussion, you can gain a deeper understanding of your hearing and take proactive steps to address any concerns.

In a nutshell, a hearing test is a simple and painless way to learn about your hearing. From the friendly greeting when you arrive to the careful checks by the audiologist, each step is meant to make you feel comfortable. You might listen for different sounds or repeat words, and your eardrum's response will be checked – all in a gentle way.

No need to worry; your audiologist is there to help and answer any questions you have. The aim is to help you understand your hearing better and talk about anything that might need attention.

So, just take it easy, relax, and follow the guidance of the pros. Your audiologist is focused on your hearing health, and together, you're on a path towards better hearing.

Want a sneak peek at your hearing health before seeing a hearing care professional? Try our free online hearing screening. It's not a diagnostic tool, but it can give you general insight to the condition of your hearing, and help you understand the next steps.