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Hearing test

hearing test
Do you think you or someone you know might have hearing loss? Indicators, such as turning the volume up on the TV too loud, not being able to hear conversations while at a restaurant, and always having to ask “what?” are some of the common signs of hearing loss.

While a hearing test may not be the first indicator of hearing loss, it is the best way to understand how well someone can hear.

There are multiple types of hearing tests – including free online tests. Hearing tests can also vary depending on how old the person is, their ear structures, and how much information can be gained by the test. The goal of all tests is to understand if you have a hearing loss, and how mild or severe it is.

How is Hearing Loss Tested?

Testing your hearing is easy and painless! Most hearing tests work by sending beeps, words and auditory signals though headphones of the person being tested.

The different types of Hearing Tests


Free Online Hearing Tests

Online hearing tests, such as Phonak’s three-minute online hearing test, may be a good place to start understanding your hearing health.

Many times, we don’t notice hearing loss until it starts to impact our lifestyle. These free online hearing test tools can give you some useful feedback about your hearing. All you need is a computer and headphones!

However, online hearing tests do not provide the in-depth results you would get from a hearing test performed by a hearing care professional.


Sound-Proof Booth

Most hearing tests for children and adults are performed in a sound-treated room at a doctor or audiologist’s office. The patient sits in the room and wears headphones or earplugs that are connected to an audiometer, which records the results.

The hearing care professional, or audiologist, will sit outside the booth, and can often be seen through a glass window. They will provide instructions, such as “raise your hand when you hear a beep” or “repeat these words after me.” The technician will then record the results of the tone test, or pure tone audiometry, to get an idea of the sound frequencies that can be heard.

Want to get a better idea of what a hearing test is really like?

Speech Audiometry

Speech audiometry tests provide insights on what frequencies an individual can hear.

This audiometry can evaluate hearing loss more sensitively than a pure tone audiometry test, especially during rehabilitation after cochlear implant surgery. It is also used when fitting hearing aids and diagnosing inner ear conditions.

These tests are often performed by the hearing care professional in the sound-proof booth setting, and then recorded on a piece of paper called an audiogram.

Read more: What an audiogram says about your hearing loss

How to read your hearing test:

Your hearing care professional will help explain the degree of your hearing loss, according to your test results. If you need more help to decipher your personalized audiogram results, here are some pointers:

  • Results for each ear will be included, usually an “X” for your left ear, and an “O” for your right. A line representing each will then be plotted across the audiogram as a series of connected X’s or O’s.
  • Sounds located above the plotted line on the chart are not heard at all, while sounds that occur below are heard.
  • Results plotted on the audiogram will give you an idea of the sounds and frequencies that you are not hearing. The example below indicates a bilateral, high-frequency hearing loss. The person with this kind of loss would not be able to hear birds chirping or leaves rustling.



A tympanometry test is often used to determine the health of the middle ear. It can determine if there is fluid in the ear, if the ear drum is damaged, or if the patient has Eustachian tube dysfunction.

Tympanometry tests are a simple test, but may cause some discomfort, as the probe, which the clinician will insert in the ear, may cause pressure – similar to the feeling you get when taking off on an airplane.

First, the hearing care professional will look into your ear using an otoscope, then they will place the rubber-tipped probe into the ear. The probe changes the air pressure in the ear canal, while low-pitched tones are administered. While the pressure changes, the clinician will measure the eardrum’s movements and the conduction of the inner-ear bones.

The tympanogram is very common for adults and children who need medical clearance before getting fit with hearing aids.

Tests for Babies

Study: Genetic hearing loss could be delayed with antioxidants

Because babies aren’t able to communicate like older children and adults, there are special hearing tests designed for them, which are safe and comfortable.

Many countries now require mandatory newborn hearing tests. Approximately 2-10 percent of all babies in the U.S. fail their first hearing screening, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they will have permanent hearing loss. Things like wax, fluid in the inner ear, and bad test results from movement and crying can disrupt the test.

There are two types hearing tests for babies, objective hearing tests and behavior hearing tests, which include Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) tests and Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs).

How long does a hearing test take and how much does it cost?

Usually, hearing tests are free, but it could cost money for those without insurance.

Hearing aid distributors often provide free hearing tests when purchasing new hearing aids, and for the lifetime of the hearing technology.

Most insurance companies cover routine hearing tests, however. you should check with your provider to be sure.

According to the consumer site, Cost Helper, copays for office visits range between $5 and $75, depending upon the insurance company. The average insured individual in the U.S. has a $19 office visit copay.

The length of a hearing test can vary from 3-minutes for an online test, to an hour in a clinic’s office.

Where to get your hearing tested

There are many options to get your hearing tested. You can find an audiologist near you, or do an online hearing test at home.

Finding a hearing test near me

To find a hearing test near you, a good place to start is your family physician. Your doctor may be able to do a hearing test, or refer you to a local specialist. Alternatively, you can locate a hearing care professional near you using an online search.

You can use this tool to find an audiologist, who can then help you determine the hearing solution that’s right for you.

Online Hearing Test

free online hearing testIn just a few minutes, you can get an idea of how well you’re hearing.

Online hearing tests cannot replace a professional hearing test. They can, however,  help you in your journey to better hearing.

Click here to take Phonak’s free online hearing test.



Author Details
The HearingLikeMe editorial team includes Jill Blocker von Bueren and Lisa Goldstein.