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What is Pure-Tone Testing?

hearing instrument specialist performing hearing evaluation in office

Pure-tone testing is a hearing test that helps diagnose problems with the outer and inner ear. It can also be used to see how well your brain processes sound, which is often related to cognitive function. This is a common test because:

  • It gives accurate results
  • The tests are relatively quick
  • It is quite affordable

Here is everything you need to know about pure-tone testing.

What is Pure-Tone Testing?

Pure-tone testing is a screening method for hearing loss in which sounds get transmitted to the ear through an instrument called an audiometer. Pure-tone levels from soft to loud can be tested. The person undergoing screening puts their hand over one or both ears and listens as sound waves enter the ear canal, travel down the middle part of the ear and finally to the inner ear.

For a person's hearing loss to be detected by pure-tone testing, they must be able to hear at least one of these test frequencies: 500 Hz, 1000 Hz or 2000 Hz. Hearing sensitivity decreases as you go higher in frequency. 

Why Pure-Tone Testing is a Common Hearing Test

Pure-tone testing, also known as air conduction hearing test, is a common type of hearing test because it is simple to administer and does not require any special equipment. A pure-tone test measures an individual's hearing ability by administering sounds at different frequencies, then measured as they enter the ear canal and leave through the eardrum. 

Benefits of Pure-Tone Testing

The pure-tone test is a hearing evaluation that can help identify you or your child's hearing loss. The test examines how well the nerve fibers in the inner ear respond to sound waves and send messages about those sounds from the inner ear to the brain. 

Pure tone tests are commonly used as an initial screen for a diagnosis of hearing loss and as a follow-up test for those with high-frequency hearing losses.

Other Benefits of the pure-tone test include:

It assists in the diagnosis of hearing loss and high-frequency hearing losses. Also, it helps to determine what type of treatment is best due to the findings from this test – whether medical, surgical, educational and counseling for emotional issues related to hearing loss, or others.

It provides the opportunity to assist in rehabilitation of hearing loss and high-frequency hearing losses with appropriate treatment. Helps to determine whether any coexisting diseases could be affecting your child's ability to hear – such as an ear infection, a middle-ear problem or a problem in the brain.