What does a normal hearing test look like?

Many people undergo hearing tests when they notice a decline in their hearing, and more still have routine hearing tests to keep an eye on their hearing levels and ensure that any changes are determined quickly. But what does a normal hearing test look like? Let’s take a look at what to expect from your hearing test and outline the thresholds for ‘normal’ hearing.

What should I expect at my hearing test?

First, we perform a video otoscopy to check for ear canal blockages or damage to the eardrum. We follow this with a tympanogram to assess the eardrum’s flexibility and check if there is any malfunction to the eustachian tube, which is the passageway between the throat and the middle ear.

Next is the main hearing test, which is called a pure-tone audiometry test. This involves the patient listening to a series of sounds to assess the thresholds of their hearing. What does a normal hearing test look like? We outline the ‘normal’ thresholds of hearing below.

Following the pure-tone hearing test, we then conduct speech tests. This assesses the levels at which the patient can hear normal speech in both quiet and noisy environments. This, in addition to the pure-tone test, helps us to determine the functional hearing capacity of the patient.

What does a normal hearing test look like?

When we perform hearing tests we have patients listen to a series of sounds and notify us when they hear something. We plot the sounds heard on a chart known as an audiogram. On the vertical axis of this chart is decibels (dB), which is the loudness of a sound. On the horizontal axis is Hertz (Hz), which is the frequency or pitch of a sound. This allows our audiologists to see the patient’s range of hearing.

People with normal hearing can hear soft sounds that occur between -10dB and 25dB. People who cannot hear within this range have hearing loss. However, the severity of this hearing loss can vary.

People with mild hearing loss can hear sounds between 26dB and 40dB, but not any softer. They tend to have difficulty hearing speech in noisy environments.

Moderate hearing loss is when people can hear sounds between 41dB and 70dB but not any lower. Speech is difficult to follow and quiet sounds often go unheard.

People with severe hearing loss can hear sounds between 71dB and 90dB and no softer. They have a lot of difficulty hearing speech even when in very quiet environments and tend not to hear any general noises unless they’re very loud.

When someone cannot hear anything softer than 90dB, their hearing loss is deemed ‘profound’. Most sounds go unheard unless they’re incredibly loud.

How do I know if I need a hearing test?

Often, it is others who notice a change in our hearing before we do. It’s easy to get used to a gradual decline in our own hearing, but others tend to notice us missing obvious sounds or asking people to repeat themselves. If you think you’re in a need of a hearing test or you’d like to book one on a loved one’s behalf, be sure to contact us to arrange an appointment.