Hearing Loss

What Kinds Of Hearing Tests Are Done?

The various tests that may be performed for hearing loss include:

  • Audiogram
  • Tympanometry
  • Site of lesion testing
  • BERA
  • Other types of testing
  • Tests not directly related to hearing

We consider these below:


An audiogram is a hearing test that is generally performed in a soundproof room using sophisticated, calibrated equipment. A trained professional, most commonly a certified audiologist, usually administers the test. Earphones are placed over the person’s ears, and tones are presented to each ear, one at a time. The softest level at which the sounds can be heard is recorded.


Tympanometry is a common test that involves placing a gentle pressure probe in the ear. This test assesses the pressure in the middle ear, and it may help detect fluid, problems with the middle ear bones, and other conditions.

Site Of Lesion Testing

Site of lesion testing involves the regular equipment used in an audiogram, with a variety of other tests to help determine where a problem lies. This kind of testing may involve:

  • Comparing the hearing in one ear with the other
  • Detecting small changes in signal intensity
  • Testing ability to hear in the presence of noise
  • Testing the ability to hear sentences placed in both ears at the same time


Brainstem evoked response audiometry (BERA or ABR) involves sophisticated, computerized equipment. Sounds are placed in the ear, and the brainstem’s response is recorded from electrodes (similar to electrocardiogram electrodes) that are taped to the patient’s head. This testing is extremely helpful in:

  • Distinguishing sensory (inner ear) from neural (nerve) causes of hearing loss
  • Helping to localize problems in the brainstem auditory pathway
  • Determining the ability to hear soft sounds, in selected cases

Other Types Of Testing

A person experiencing ear noise (a condition called tinnitus) can be tested in several ways. Sometimes it is possible to measure the frequency and intensity of the tinnitus. There are also tests that help determine whether it can be suppressed or masked.

Since the inner ear is divided into hearing and balance sections that are related, balance system testing is often appropriate for people withsensorineural hearing loss. Such testing may be useful even in people who do not have obvious balance problems.

The most common balance tests are:

  • Electronystagmography (ENG). ENG involves measuring eye movements and stimulating the body’s vestibular system, which controls balance. This kind of testing is not widely available, but it may be valuable for some people.
  • Computerized dynamic posturography (CDP). CDP tests overall balance function using a computerized testing platform. It provides invaluable information that is especially useful in combination with an ENG.

Tests Not Directly Related To Hearing

Because of the complexity of the hearing system and the many things that may affect it, an evaluation of other parts of the body is often helpful. This usually involves blood tests and imaging studies. Imaging studies may include:

  • A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to look at the inner ear nerves and brain

    For more information about MRI, go to MRI.

  • A computed tomography (CT) scan to look at the bones of the ear

    For more information about CT Scan, go to CT Scan.

  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), or occasionally angiography, which produces images of the blood vessels to the brain
  • A SPECT or PET scan, which produces images of microscopic blood flow within the brain.

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