At HCS we are aware of the importance of hearing and hearing conservation. That is why we offer hearing tests and various hearing conservation programs.

What is audiometry?

A hearing test, or audiometry exam, is a painless non-invasive test that measures a person’s ability to hear different sounds, pitches or frequencies and other functions related to the inner ear, using an audiometer.

During this test the intensity of sound and the tone of sound, among other things, are measured. The intensity of sound is measured in decibels (dB). A whisper is about 20 dB, while loud music can be around 80 to 120 dB. Sounds above 85dB can cause hearing loss after a few hours while louder sounds can cause immediate pain and a hearing loss can occur within a short time. The tone of sound is measured in cycles per second (cps) or Hertz. The normal range of human hearing is about 20 to 20,000 Hz.

A pure audiometry test measures the softest or least audible sound a person can hear. During the test, you will wear earphones and hear a range of sounds directed to one ear at a time. The test is performed multiple times to assure the right measurement.

Why audiometry is performed

An audiometry test is performed to determine how well a person can hear, with a primary focus on the assessment of hearing status and hearing loss, including extent, type and configuration. An audiometry may be performed as part of a routine screening or in response to a noticeable loss of hearing.

What is hearing loss?

Hearing loss is the loss of hearing in one or both ears, ranging from mild to profound. There are four defined degrees of hearing loss: mild, moderate, severe, and profound. Hearing loss can furthermore be divided into four types: conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, central auditory processing disorders, and mixed types. Hearing loss may be unilateral or bilateral, of sudden onset or progressive, and temporary or permanent.

Common causes for hearing loss

The common causes of hearing loss include:

  • Birth defects
  • Chronic ear infections
  • An injury to the ear or ruptured eardrum
  • Inherited conditions such as otosclerosis
  • Age related hearing loss (presbyacusis) which often occurs among people over 60 years of age
  • Frequent exposure to excessive noise. This can be from working with machines or areas with a lot of noise.
  • Ototoxic chemicals and drugs
  • Having a close relative with hearing loss or a family history of genetic disorders with hearing loss
  • Physical trauma

Hearing loss prevention

Since there is no medical or surgical treatment for hearing loss caused by noise, you should protect your hearing as much as possible and prevent any loss of hearing. Just because hearing loss is common doesn’t mean everyone is destined to be affected by it.

There are many ways to prevent hearing loss or stop it from getting worse. Most importantly, protect yourself against noise-induced hearing loss. Some noisy occupations can increase your risk of developing hearing loss. This cause of hearing loss is the easiest type to prevent by limiting exposure to loud noise and wearing hearing protection.

How to prepare for an audiometry

Avoid loud noises or working in noisy areas for at least 16 hours prior to doing the test. In this case, loud noises are basically all noises louder than a domestic vacuum cleaner that last more than a few minutes.

Does it hurt or cause any risks?

Audiometry is a non-invasive test and does not hurt or cause any risks.

What else to know

The hearing canal needs to be free of earwax to see the eardrum to do the testing. Prior to testing the ear will be looked in to see if the eardrum is visible and if there are no infections or foreign objects in the ears. If there is too much earwax (cerumen) so the eardrum is not clearly visible, an ear lavage will be needed. Two days after the ear lavage, the audiometry test can be performed.