How Weber and Rinne hearing tests work

Published: 23rd April 2010
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A person has a better chance of treating his or her hearing loss problem when it is diagnosed early on. One of the ways of getting hearing loss is by living in a noisy place like near an airport or a construction yard. Sometimes hearing loss is something you are born with, as some parts of the ear may not have formed completely or correctly.

Hearing can be affected when some sort of sickness is able to affect the nose, mouth, ear connection. There are also some medication that are known to cause hearing loss in people as well. Hearing impairment can also be caused by injuries to the head or spinal area.

Hearing loss can be acquired from being in a situation wherein the noise pollution is too loud. Noisy people, loud noises from appliances, office equipments, factory machinery are all samples of noise pollution. This can also be something very rare, like being near an explosion, a gunshot or even a sudden outburst of extremely high decibel sound.

Like any other sickness, disease or disorder the best way to treat hearing loss is by detection first, then treating it quickly. A hearing disorder that is left to progress and age is more difficult to treat than one that is treated early on. Hearing tests are the first thing a doctor will do on the patient.

An audiologist will use an audiometer to check a person's hearing sensitivity against different sound levels and frequencies. Tests that involve an audiometer usually involves a setup wherein the patient sits in a soundproof booth wearing headphones that are linked to an audiometer. The audiologist then operates the audiometer and makes the patient hear sounds at different levels and frequencies.

The patient inside the soundproof booth should respond to hearing the sound by pressing on a button. More than one sound is tested and a graph is plotted out by the audio specialist. One look at the graph plotted out will expose what frequencies and volume sound cannot be heard by the subject.

Two other tests called the Weber and Rinne tests are performed to test for the type of hearing loss a person is afflicted with. In both the Weber and Rinne tests, a tuning fork is used to determine the kind and extent of hearing loss the subject is suffering from. The Weber test can be a quick test used to check for presence of hearing loss, but only the Rinne test can determine which type is present and at which ear.

With the Weber test, the tuning fork is placed in the exact middle of the forehead. Once the patient hears symmetrical sound in both ears, then it is assumed that the patient has either no hearing loss or the same hearing loss in both ears. If the sound is heard differently in one ear than the other then the person is said to have asymmetric hearing loss.

In addition to the Weber test, if the Rinne test is followed, it is even possible to detect if a person has conductive or sensorineural hearing loss too. The tests are also used to figure out which ear has which type of hearing loss. These tests are the easiest and fastest way of diagnosing hearing loss.

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