Hearing evaluations are usually the first step in diagnosing hearing loss. A comprehensive hearing evaluation is actually a series of tests that collectively measure hearing sensitivity. Results will help an audiologist determine an appropriate course of treatment.
Who Should Get a Hearing Evaluation?
Because hearing loss can be difficult to detect, and when untreated may lead to serious health issues, regular hearing evaluations are recommended for adults over the age of 40. It is also a good idea for anybody with a family history of hearing loss or frequent exposure to loud noise, either on the job or during recreational activities, to have their hearing checked periodically. Early detection of hearing loss improves the odds of successful treatment.
Tests in a Comprehensive Hearing Evaluation
Prior to your hearing evaluation, we’ll take a look at your medical history and review your symptoms. We’ll use an otoscope to check your ears. We will then conduct a number of tests that may include any (or all) of the following:
- Pure Tone Audiometry. Pure Tone Audiometry measures the threshold of a patient’s hearing range by having him or her identify tones at varying frequency levels.
- Word Recognition Test. This test measures a patient’s clarity or understanding of speech. It helps the audiologist determine whether hearing aids will help.
- Tympanometry. Tympanometry measures the movement of a person’s eardrum in response to air pressure and can help identify problems in the outer and middle ear such as excess fluid or earwax or perforated eardrum.
- Acoustic Reflex Test. This measures muscle contractions in the middle ear, and can help identify problems with the ossicles, cochlea, auditory nerve, facial nerve or brainstem.
- Bone Conduction Test. Bone conduction relies on an oscillator placed on the skull that transmits sounds directly to the inner ear to differentiate between a conductive, sensorineural or mixed type of hearing loss.