Hearing Test Questions: What Is a Tympanometry Test?

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If you're having problems with your hearing, then you may have decided to have a hearing test. These tests typically include a few different procedures, one of which is a tympanometry assessment.

What does this kind of test do and what will it tell you?

How Does a Tympanometry Test Work? 

A tympanometry test doesn't evaluate your hearing as such; it checks out the health of areas of your inner ear such as your eardrum. This is an objective physical test used on both adults and children. You don't have to participate in it, say by noting when you can hear a sound, as you do with other parts of a hearing test.

In most cases, the person doing the test pushes air into your ear. They then measure air pressure and change it to see how your eardrum reacts and moves.

This isn't a painful test. However, you may have the same feeling in your ear that you have when you're on a flight at times like take-off and landing when the pressure changes. You also have to stay still for the duration of the test.

What Does a Tympanometry Test Tell You?

A tympanometry test looks for physical problems in the middle ear. If you have a problem in this area, it might affect your hearing. This could turn out to be the root cause of hearing loss or a contributing factor.

For example, this kind of test can show if you have a fluid build-up in the middle ear. Too much fluid in this area can affect your hearing. If you have a build-up around the eardrum, it prevents the drum from moving as it should. In turn, this prevents it from transmitting sounds correctly.

In addition to fluid problems, this test also spots infections and problems with the eardrum such as perforations. It identifies some Eustachian tube problems.

If a tympanometry test shows that you have a physical problem in the ear, then you may be able to solve your hearing issues by fixing the underlying problem. For example, if you have an infection, antibiotics should clear this up. Once the infection is gone, your hearing should return to normal.

If you get the all-clear after this assessment, then other parts of the general hearing test help identify your problem and possible solutions. To find out more about the tests you;ll have, talk to your hearing test provider.