The history of hearing tests - AudioClinic

The history of hearing tests

There has always been a need for hearing tests and solutions. Since mankind has been around, there have been people who could hear better than others, whereas some could not hear at all. The concept of the hearing test has therefore been around to some degree since finding a solution to hearing loss. Now, with advanced developments in science and technology, our generation benefits from quick hearing tests and device improvement. 

Let's dive into history and learn a bit about the development of hearing tests over time, so we can fully appreciate what we have today!

Hearing tests, B.C.

The first ever research on hearing loss was conducted by Hippocrates of Cos between 460 to 377 B.C. He was a Greek physician who took the first stab at diagnosing potential causes of hearing loss.

Next up, Aulus Cornelius Celsus, who lived from 50 to 25 B.C., wrote the medical encyclopaedia De Medicina. In this book, he discussed some studies and treatments to help those with hearing problems. Some of these included removing ulcers with surgical needles – it's no wonder people seem to be innately afraid of hearing tests! However, with modern technology, it's now easy to convince a loved one, or yourself, to go get a hearing test that's non-invasive and pain-free.

Hearing tests are only getting better with technology. Hearing tests are only getting better with technology.

Modern advancements 

Meanwhile German physicians Heinrich Adolf Rinne and Ernst Heinrich Weber started using the tuning fork to better examine their patients reactions to various vibrations. They used these tests to understand the difference between conductive or sensorineural hearing loss. 

We next went from tuning forks to audiometers in 1879. David Edward Hughs invented this device to test how sharp a patient's hearing was. The administrator would twist a knob to various frequencies and see which decibels the listener struggled with. Serious hearing loss was considered 60 decibels. 

As you may be well aware, hearing tests have developed quite significantly ever since. Electronic hearing assessments were invented in the 1920s and allowed for even better quality tones for more accurate tests. 

Hearing tests today

Today's modern advancements are a little different, of course! If you've never had a consultation before, the process begins with a short questionnaire to get an understanding of your current hearing status. This then evolves into a larger discussion with our audiologists to get more in-depth knowledge about the factors that may have influenced your hearing, as well as help narrow down your personal hearing needs.

Next comes the fun parts – the tests! The audiometric test is one of the more common procedures that you might already be familiar with. You will be asked to put on noise-cancelling headphones, listen to a series of tones and indicate when you hear the tone. Once the test is over, the audiologist will show you the audiogram and explain the results.

Other modern hearing tests include the speech test. Similar to an audiometric test, here you are instructed to listen to spoken words at different volumes which you must repeat out loud. This gives your audiologist an idea of how you hear and comprehend every day conversations.

Ready to be tested with these non-invasive procedures? Click here to request a no cost* hearing test or give one of our AudioClinic clinicians a call at 1800 646 168.

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