How the Rinne & Weber Tests Are Used to Detect Conductive Hearing Loss


When checking for conductive hearing loss, doctors may issue tests to help them come up with a treatment plan so you can adjust to the changes. Rinne and Weber tests are the most common exams provided. We’ll go over what the tests entail, what the benefits are, how the tests are conducted, and what the results mean.

What the Rinne and Weber Tests Are

Doctors use the Rinne and Weber tests to check you for hearing loss and determine what kind you have. Once they understand your hearing issue, they can create a treatment plan to help you adjust to changes in your hearing.

The Rinne test compares bone conduction and air conduction to evaluate hearing loss. Bone conduction hearing measures vibrations using your ear’s individual nervous system. Air conduction hearing uses air around the ear and takes place through the eardrum and ear canal. The Weber test also evaluates conductive hearing loss.

What Conductive Hearing Loss Is

When you have conductive hearing loss, sound cannot get through your outer and middle ear, making it difficult to hear soft sounds and muffling louder sounds. This problem can be caused by issues with the middle ear, eardrum, or ear canal. For example, ear infections, earwax buildup, fluid buildup in the middle ear, punctured eardrums, and bone damage in the middle ear can all cause conductive loss. By using the Rinne and Weber tests, your doctor can evaluate the situation and get you the treatment you need to help prevent complete hearing loss.

What the Benefits of the Rinne and Weber Tests Are

The Rinne and Weber tests are favorites of hearing doctors because they can be conducted in office and are simple to perform. Many practitioners start with these tests to determine changes in your hearing. The Rinne and Weber test can tell you whether you have an ear infection, wax buildup, fluid in the middle ear, an eardrum perforation, nerve injury, or if the bones in your middle ear can’t move properly (otosclerosis).

How the Rinne and Weber Tests Are Conducted

For both tests, your doctor will strike a 512-Hz tuning fork to test your ears’ response to vibrations and sounds nearby. The Rinne test places the fork on the mastoid bone behind your ear. You’ll be expected to tell the doctor when you can no longer hear the sound. Next, the doctor will place the tuning fork near your ear canal. Again, you’ll signal the doctor when you can’t hear the sound anymore. The doctor will then record the length of time you were able to hear the sounds. The Weber test is a little different. Your doctor will place the vibrating tuning fork on the middle of your head and you’ll note which ear you can best hear it from.

What the Results of the Rinne and Weber Tests Mean

There is no risk involved with either of these tests. They’re noninvasive and painless. Doctors can perform each test individually or use both to determine the type of hearing loss you have.

  • Rinne Test: With normal hearing, air conduction time will be twice as long as that of bone conduction. Sounds next to your ear will sound for twice as long as those behind your ear. Conductive hearing loss will cause the bone conduction to be heard for a longer duration than the air conduction sound.

  • Weber Test: If your hearing is normal, the tuning fork will produce equal sound in each ear. If, however, you have conductive hearing loss, sound will be heard best in the ear with an abnormality.

The Rinne and Weber tests have no side effects, making them a safe and effective option for people of all ages. The doctors at the Oklahoma Hearing Center can use these tests to provide you with a treatment plan to correct, reverse, manage, or improve your specific hearing issues. Call us today for an appointment.