What is it Like to Have Your Hearing Tested?

Hearing tests, also known as hearing evaluations are painless, non-invasive ways to measure how acute your hearing is and to determine whether a hearing loss is present. Hearing tests help detect problems with your ability to hear and can isolate possible causes. The analysis from your hearing testing will shape the way your hearing aids are programmed, should you need them. Here’s what to expect at your next hearing evaluation in Beaufort, SC.

1. Medical History

Your hearing specialist is going to start your hearing exam by collecting information on your medical history relevant to hearing loss. Understanding your medical background is crucial as it offers insight into any predispositions or external factors that might affect your hearing. Health issues such as anemia, heart disease, and diabetes are all linked to higher incidences of hearing loss.

Additionally, hearing loss can be a contributing factor to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, underscoring the interconnectedness of our bodily systems. Some medications are designated “ototoxic,” meaning that they can have the side effect of damaging hearing. It's essential to be upfront about any medications you're on, as they might be playing a role in your hearing health.

Part of reviewing your medical history will also be talking about your current hearing experience. This subjective account is vital to understanding the real-world implications of any potential hearing issues. You’ll review any specific issues with your hearing specialist, including how long they have been present, what they sound or feel like, and if the hearing concerns are changing your mood or behavior. This conversation paints a picture of your daily auditory challenges, allowing the specialist to better tailor the testing and subsequent interventions.

Your provider may also ask you questions about your life including your daily routine, work and school schedule, and social habits. This is to get a holistic view of your lifestyle and understand the environments you're frequently exposed to. If you are facing hearing loss, these questions will help guide what sort of features you will need in a hearing aid or assistive device.

These devices aren't one-size-fits-all, and the right fit can drastically improve one's quality of life. Finding the right hearing aids for your lifestyle means factoring in how you use your hearing on a daily basis, ensuring you remain connected and engaged in your everyday activities.

2. Physical Exam

The next stage of your hearing test is a physical examination of the ear. Using a handheld tool called an otoscope, your hearing health provider will check your ear for obstructions, infections and other abnormalities. Hearing issues due to impacted earwax can be easily detected with a simple physical exam. When an infection is present, signs can often be noticed in the appearance of the ear canal. Other problems, such as a perforated eardrum, are also detectable with the otoscope.

It's important to understand that the ear is a delicate and intricate organ. An otoscope illuminates and magnifies the inner ear, allowing the provider to get a clear view. The tympanic membrane, commonly known as the eardrum, should appear pearly white or light gray. Any deviation, like redness or bulging, can indicate an issue. An otoscope can also identify any structural anomalies or growths that might be affecting one's hearing.

Additionally, the shape and condition of the ear canal itself can offer insights. It can sometimes reveal chronic conditions or past injuries. For those who swim or are exposed to moisture frequently, the otoscope might detect signs of "swimmer's ear," a common infection. By observing these intricate details, the hearing specialist can often diagnose the root cause of hearing issues, ensuring appropriate treatment or intervention. Remember, the state of your ears can say a lot about your overall health, making this examination a critical step in comprehensive auditory care.

3. Audio Test

The next phase of your hearing test will happen in a quiet, soundproofed room or while wearing headphones. This controlled environment ensures accurate results, eliminating the interference of external noises. Audio testing may involve several stages, each asking you to give an indication every time you notice a sound is played. The variety of sounds played will range in frequency and volume, designed to measure the full spectrum of your hearing capability.


With pure tone testing, tones of various volumes and frequencies will be played for you. Each time you hear a sound, you will be asked to press a button in response. This lets the tester know what sounds and volumes you can hear and which are more challenging for you. Depending on the hearing test, you may also be asked to indicate in which ear you hear the tone. The responses are then recorded and analyzed. Pure tone testing generates an audiogram that outlines the overall performance of your hearing. This audiogram acts as a visual representation of your hearing capabilities across different pitches.


A more nuanced picture of how well you hear is created with the speech recognition test. With this testing, you will be played a spoken phrase or sentence and you will be asked to repeat back what was said. This test is particularly important because it mimics real-life situations where understanding speech is essential. This gives your hearing specialist an idea of how well your hearing functions in everyday situations. Often, the phrases used in this test are designed to assess hearing in noisy environments or with multiple speakers.


Your hearing specialist may perform other hearing evaluations at the Beaufort Sound, Hearing and Balance Center in Beaufort, SC as well. Bone conduction testing assesses how well the small bones of the middle ear perform by using a small vibrating unit placed behind the outer ear. Tympanometry is another middle ear test. It induces slight pressure changes in the ear to check for unusual fluid within the middle ear. It's a pivotal examination to detect conditions like otitis media or problems related to Eustachian tube function.

4. Reviewing the Results of your Beaufort Hearing Evaluation

Your Beaufort, SC hearing evaluation concludes by looking at the audiogram that has been generated by your hearing test. This graphical representation offers a comprehensive snapshot of your auditory health.

Audiograms show how sensitive your hearing is by charting the minimum volume at which you can reliably detect a frequency. These charts are important in discerning specific hearing thresholds and identifying any potential irregularities. Most often, people with significant hearing loss show pronounced problems with very high or very low-frequency sounds, making everyday tasks like listening to music or holding a conversation challenging.

Your hearing specialist will review these results with you to ensure you grasp the nuances of your hearing profile. They'll pinpoint any areas of concern and explain them in context. If hearing loss is present, you’ll also discuss what your options are for treatment.

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For the past 10+ years, Dr. Larry Bridge has practiced audiology in every setting ranging from VA hospitals, to private practice, and most recently, an ENT setting here in Beaufort.
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As we age, our hearing becomes more delicate and gradual hearing loss becomes more pronounced so getting an annual hearing test is a great idea to stay on top of your hearing health. Here at The Beaufort Sound, we offer comprehensive testing and expert analysis to provide you with hearing solutions that are built for your lifestyle.