Trust your hearing
healthcare to our experts!

How Long Have Hearing Tests Been Around?

an audiologist is reviewing a patient's audiogram

The potential for hearing loss has been around forever, so it will be no surprise to learn that hearing tests, in one form or another, have also been around for a very long time. In fact, as we will see below, the first record we have of hearing tests came from the time of the ancient Greeks, so our hearing test journey goes back an incredibly long time. 

Hippocrates was the first physician on record

The first record of hearing tests taking place goes back to the days of ancient Greece. Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician, was said to have been the first person to try to understand hearing loss. We don't know much about the testing methods he used, but through his clinical research, he surmised that hearing loss came from injury to the skull. He also believed the wind and changes in the weather could also be a factor.

Aulus Cornelius Celsus was one of the first to treat hearing loss

Jumping forward to the time of 25 BC, we learn that Aulus Cornelius Celsus was one of the first people to differentiate between hearing disorders. We don't know how he carried out his hearing tests, but we do know that he was possibly the first person to check for wax and foreign bodies in the ear. He also used surgical needles to remove ulcers, which he believed were partly responsible for hearing loss in his patients. During this period, other methods were used by well-meaning doctors of the time, including the use of a gold tube to provide suction in the eardrum to stimulate hearing.

Roman innovators tried and sometimes failed

In first Century, AD, Roman physician Arhigenes believed loud sounds could stimulate hearing in those with hearing loss. Needless to say, he probably made things worse for his poor patients. In fourth Century, AD, physician Alexander of Tralles blew a trumpet directly into the ear canal in an effort to stimulate the auditory system. He also used herbal mixtures to treat hearing loss, though we don't know how effective any of these methods really were. 

Modern methods had better results

19th-century German physicians, Ernst Heinrich Weber and Heinrich Adolf Rinne used a tuning fork to determine if their patients' hearing loss was sensorineural or conductive. Their invention led to an early version of the audiometer, which was first used in 1879 by David Edward Hughes, who used his primitive device to test his patients' ability to hear certain sound frequencies.

Hughes' invention was basic at best, but by 1919, technology had advanced, and an electronic audiometer became commonplace for testing purposes. At the close of  World War two, aural hospitals were founded to treat soldiers who had developed hearing loss in battle and it was during this time when the word audiology was first used, and audiograms were first used to evaluate the quality of a persons' hearing. 

By the 1960s, audiology programs had become commonplace, and advancements continued to help people with speech and aural rehabilitation. The audiogram has developed over the years and is still the recognized method used by audiologists today to evaluate hearing loss and support treatment methods.

Work continues to improve in the field of audiology, and one of the most recent advancements came about in 2017 with the Audicus Online Hearing Test which is accessible to anybody looking to test their own hearing. Those who use it and who detect possible signs of hearing loss are encouraged to speak to an audiologist for further testing and treatment. 

Contact us

Hearing tests, in one form or another, have been around for centuries and this is good news for today's patients. They can now benefit from the modern hearing tests that have developed in scale and quality from those early inventions. If you believe you need a hearing test, perhaps because you have experienced signs of hearing loss, you can be assured that you will be the safest of hands at the Physicians Hearing Center. Using today's modern methods of testing, we will examine your ears, test your hearing and evaluate what needs to be done next to support you on your hearing journey. To find out more about us and to book an appointment, contact us at 334-673-7399 and benefit from the help we can give to you.