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Hearing Tests


Dr. Reynolds

Welcome to the Hearing Test training video presented by the Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence. I’m Dr. Reynolds.

Dr. Matthews

And I’m Dr. Matthews. It’s important to have your hearing tested on a regular basis, especially if you are or were in the military. Routine hearing tests assist in the early detection of hearing loss or associated symptoms, such as ringing in the ears, called tinnitus.

Dr. Reynolds

That’s right, Dr. Matthews. A number of different diagnostic procedures and tests are available that measure your ability to hear. Early identification of a hearing problem allows you and your hearing health provider to develop a strategy for prevention, and, if needed, for rehabilitation or treatment.

Your provider can also alert you to hazardous noise sources that may have contributed to your current hearing problems. In addition, your provider can offer counseling and fit you with hearing protection devices to alleviate further damage from hazardous noise. 

Dr. Matthews

Early identification of hearing loss is critical to prevent further damage from hazardous noise exposure. It’s important to be aware of the warning signs of hearing problems that result from unprotected exposure to hazardous noise.

Dr. Reynolds

These warning signs include:

  • You can’t hear someone talking three feet away from you
  • You can hear people talking, but have difficulty understanding what they’re saying 
  • You hear buzzing or ringing in your ears, or
  • You have a feeling of “fullness” in your ears after leaving a noisy area, such as a concert venue

Dr. Matthews

If you notice any of these signs and symptoms of hearing loss, be sure to contact your hearing health provider or audiologist to schedule a hearing test. In addition, remember to wear hearing protection whenever you are exposed to hazardous noise. 

Dr. Reynolds

For those in the military, the Defense Occupational and Environmental Health Readiness System-Hearing Conservation, or DOEHRS-HC, audiogram is an annual hearing test that determines the softest level or volume that you can hear at certain frequencies. This monitoring exam often takes place in a multi-station sound booth, along with other people who are also being tested.

During the test, when you hear a tone or beep, you push a button to indicate that you heard the tone. Your first DOEHRS-HC audiogram is used as a baseline, or reference, for your hearing.

Dr. Matthews

Then the outcomes of your following annual audiograms are compared to your baseline audiogram to determine if there are any changes in your hearing.

When a change in your hearing does occur, it’s called a significant threshold shift, or STS. If there has been an STS, or if you have noticed a change in your hearing ability, further audiological testing is needed. This testing assesses the overall function of your auditory system. 

Dr. Reynolds

A comprehensive hearing evaluation goes beyond the basic DOEHRS-HC audiogram, and offers you and your hearing health provider more information about your hearing health. This additional evaluation takes place in a single-station, diagnostic sound booth.

Dr. Matthews

There are many possible tests, which typically begin with:

  • Pure-tone audiometry, using headphones and a bone-conduction device, and
  • Speech audiometry, which determines the softest level that you can hear and repeat words correctly. It also tests your ability to understand speech at a comfortable listening level in quiet situations, and with background noise

Depending on your responses, you may require further testing to fully evaluate your auditory system.

Dr. Reynolds

That’s right. And it’s important to know that all hearing tests help identify the presence and severity of hearing loss. Keep in mind that the goal is to detect hearing changes as early as possible, and to provide you with the necessary tools, such as prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation, to prevent further hearing damage.

Dr. Matthews

If you’re in the military and routinely exposed to hazardous noise, be sure you obtain your annual hearing health services that include a DOEHRS-HC audiogram, fitting or refitting of hearing protection devices, and hearing health education. If you have questions or concerns about your hearing, contact your hearing health provider or audiologist for more information.

Dr. Reynolds

You can also visit the DoD Hearing Center of Excellence web site at for more in-depth information about your hearing and hearing health.

Quick Fact


No two ears are the same, which is important to keep in mind when ensuring proper fit for hearing protective devices. During hearing protection testing, there is a <2mm difference in insertion depth between eighty-five percent of subjects’ left and right ears.

About Us

The Hearing Center of Excellence fosters and promotes the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, rehabilitation and research of hearing loss and auditory injury. It supports the development, exchange and adoption of best practices, research, measures of effectiveness and clinical care guidelines to reduce the prevalence and cost of hearing loss and tinnitus among Warriors and Veterans. Read more

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