How Is a Pure Tone Audiometry Test Done?

An audiometry test is done to evaluate your hearing capacity.
An audiometry test is done to evaluate your hearing capacity.

An audiometry test is done to evaluate your hearing capacity. It may be done in patients with deafness to determine the cause and degree of hearing loss. The test is generally advised by an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeon and performed by an audiologist. The test uses different pitches of sound to measure how sensitive your sense of hearing is.

During a pure tone audiometry test, you will be given headphones or earphones and asked to listen to sounds/tones played on a special machine known as an audiometer. The sounds will be of different types and played at different speeds and intensities. Each time you hear a sound, you must signal the audiologist by raising your finger. The intensity of sound at which you raise a finger is recorded and charted on a graph. Each ear will be tested separately. The audiologist will give you instructions for each sound.

How do you prepare for a pure tone audiometry test?

There is no special preparation, such as fasting or discontinuing any medications, needed before a pure tone audiometry test. Refrain from loud noises or using headphones to listen to music before the test.

What happens after the pure tone audiometry test?

You will be given the test report most likely on the same day. Your doctor will review the test report and discuss with you specific hearing problems if any. Based on the findings, they will suggest any precautions that you must take, such as avoiding listening to music at a high volume. They may also recommend treatment such as using a hearing aid.

Why is pure tone audiometry testing performed?

A pure tone audiometry test is performed as a part of routine screening or to determine if there is some type of hearing loss.

Hearing loss occurs commonly in conditions that include:

  • Acoustic neuroma (a benign tumor that develops on the auditory nerves leading from your inner ear to the brain)
  • Occupational hearing loss. It may be done for compensation purposes. 
  • Trauma from a very loud sound, such as an intense blast sound
  • Injury to the ear
  • Persistent exposure to loud noise
  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Birth defects
  • Alport syndrome (a hereditary condition that involves kidney damage and hearing impairment)
  • Labyrinthitis (inner ear infection that affects your balance)
  • Ménière disease (a disorder of the inner ear characterized by dizzy spells or vertigo and hearing loss)
  • Otosclerosis (abnormal bone growth in the middle ear)
  • Ruptured eardrum

Which are the other tests in audiometry?

The other audiometry tests are as follows:

  • Speech audiometry: The test is done to check how well you can distinguish speech from background noise. The audiologist will ask you to listen to an audio sample and recognize the words.
  • Impedance audiometry: This test measures the function of the eardrum and the flow of sound through the middle ear.

Audiometry tests are painless and take about an hour to complete.


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Kutz JW. Audiology Pure-Tone Testing. Medscape.