The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

Tests will be done on the ears. These may be:

  • Audiometric tests —listening to tones and words through earphones in a soundproof room and reporting whether they are heard
  • Tympanometry —measures the pressure in the middle ear and the movement of the eardrum
  • Acoustic reflex —measures the response of a small ear muscle that moves when there is a loud sound
  • Static acoustic measures —helps detect a hole in the eardrum or if ear ventilation tubes are open
  • Otoacoustic emissions —detects a blockage or damage in different parts of the ear (often used in infants)

An auditory brainstem response test may be done to measure the electrical response in the brain to sounds (often used in infants).

Images may be taken. This may be done with:


Conductive hearing loss. ENT Health—American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: Updated July 2019. Accessed October 25, 2019.

Hearing loss. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: Updated August 1, 2009. Accessed October 25, 2019.

Hearing loss in children: screening and diagnosis of hearing loss. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated March 21, 2019. Accessed October 25, 2019.

Hearing loss and older adults. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) website. Available at: Updated July 17, 2018. Accessed October 25, 2019.

Stachler RJ, Chandrasekhar SS, et al; American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF). Clinical practice guideline: sudden hearing loss. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2012 Mar;146(3 Suppl):S1-35.

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated November 26, 2018. Accessed October 25, 2019.

Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD  Last Updated: 05/27/2020