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Hearing Screenings vs. Hearing Tests

You’ve been screened for hearing loss at work and the nurse lets you know you should book a hearing test. What does that mean? Didn’t you just have one done?

Hearing screenings are the tests done at your workplace, school, or by a public health nurse. They are often performed at no cost. They can be valuable tools to let you know if there’s something wrong with your hearing, however they won’t be able to tell you what exactly is wrong or the extent of the issue.

Hearing screenings generally are a pass/fail. They are meant to determine if you need a more comprehensive hearing examination. If you pass, you don’t have hearing loss. If you fail, then you do have some extent of hearing loss and will need to see an audiologist to determine the cause as well as the type and severity of hearing loss.

Hearing screenings, including the ones that you can find and do yourself online, are not meant to make a diagnosis but rather let you know that there may be a problem that needs further investigation.

Hearing examinations are more in depth and can tell you the type and severity of your hearing loss, how it may have occurred, and your options going forward.

Full hearing tests often include:

- Audiometry, or testing which frequencies you are able to hear

- Speech Tests, which means testing how well you can hear and understand speech at different levels of sound

- Tympanometry, which tests if your middle ear has any fluid or wax buildup, or if your eardrum has been perforated

- Testing which sounds are heard at different points in the ear to determine if there is a hearing loss or if something may be blocking the ear canal

Full hearing tests can also be helpful if you aren’t experiencing hearing loss, but suffering from other ear related issues such as tinnitus or vertigo. Ruling out hearing loss can be a helpful starting point to figure out what the issue is and what can be done in order to minimize discomfort.


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