Types of Hearing Tests

Before your hearing loss can be treated, your Thousand Oaks audiologist must first confirm the type and degree of the loss. This is necessary as your treatment options vary based on this information.

In order to do this, a series of tests may be performed. Below are the most common hearing tests used to complete a comprehensive audiology evaluation.

Pure Tone Testing

Types of Hearing Tests

Pure tone testing measures your ability to hear a variety of sounds at various volumes and pitches through standard air conduction. The test requires you to sit in a sound booth and wear a set of headphones. Tones will be played over the headphones and every time you hear one you will be instructed to either raise your hand, press a button or reply verbally.

The results from this test are recorded on an audiogram, which is just a visual representation of your hearing loss. 

Bone Conduction Testing

This is another pure-tone test but instead of using air conduction it uses bone. This allows your Thousand Oaks audiologist to measure your inner ear’s response to sounds while bypassing any damage or blockage in the outer or middle ear.

This test requires a small device to be placed behind your ear. It emits a vibration that passes through the skull bone to the inner ear.

If the results of this test are different than the air conduction test, your Thousand Oaks hearing specialist can use this information to determine if you have conductive or sensorineural hearing loss.

Speech Testing

Speech (or word recognition) testing is used to measure your speech reception threshold (SRT), which is also known as the faintest speech you can understand 50 percent of the time. The results from this test are compared with your pure-tone test results in order to confirm the diagnosis. Your ability to separate speech from background noise will also be recorded.

This test is usually administered in both a quiet and noisy environment. Like the other tests, the results from your speech testing will be recorded on an audiogram. 


Tympanometry is used to detect fluid, wax buildup, eardrum perforations and tumors in the middle ear. It measures movement of the eardrum in response to air pressure; the results are recorded on a chart called a tympanogram.

Acoustic Reflex Test 

The acoustic reflex test measures involuntary muscle contractions of the middle ear and is used to determine the location of your hearing problem (the ossicles, cochlea, auditory nerve, etc.) as well as the type of hearing loss.

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)

Auditory brainstem response testing is used to determine whether you are suffering from sensorineural hearing loss. ABR is also commonly used to screen newborns for hearing problems.

In this test, electrodes are attached to your head, scalp or earlobes and you are given headphones to wear. Your brainwave activity is measured in response to a spectrum of sounds.

Otoacoustic Emissions (OAES)

Otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) are faint sounds generated by the vibrations of the hair cells in the cochlea of your inner ear. Those with normal hearing will produce these emissions; those with a hearing loss exceeding 25 to 30 decibels will not. 

This test requires a tiny probe fitted with a microphone to be placed in the ear. A speaker is then used to stimulate the cochlea while the probe measures its response.

The results from this test indicate if there is a blockage in the ear canal, excess fluid in the middle ear or damage to the hair cells of the cochlea. OAE testing is often included in newborn hearing screening programs.

As you can see, there are many tests that can be utilized to determine your type and degree of hearing loss. The results from these tests will be used by your Thousand Oaks audiologist to create an individualized treatment plan.

Contact your Thousand Oaks audiologist to get started today.

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