Hearing evaluations are used to measure hearing sensitivity, and are necessary in helping an audiologist determine the extent of a patient’s hearing loss. They can provide early detection, which increases treatment options and improves the chances of success.
Why Have a Hearing Evaluation?
Hearing loss usually occurs gradually. Many patients are not even aware of a problem, especially when the loss occurs in the higher frequencies (as is common).
Hearing evaluations can confirm the presence of hearing loss early, allowing patients to seek treatment that will help maintain quality of life.
Even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms, a hearing evaluation is a good idea. Your ears deserve the same attention your eyes receive!
Typical Tests in a Hearing Evaluation
A hearing evaluation consists of a series of hearing tests that measure a patient’s sensitivity to a variety of frequencies, with the results plotted on an audiogram. Following an overview of your medical history and a physical examination of your ears, you will be given one or more of the following tests as part of your evaluation.
- Pure Tone Audiometry. You are given headphones and asked to identify tones of different frequencies and volumes. Used to determine your hearing range threshold.
- Word Recognition. You are given a series of words and asked to repeat them. This determines how well you can understand speech over background noise.
- Tympanometry. A probe is placed in the ear and used to measure movement of the eardrum in response to changes in air pressure. It detects issues such as fluid in the middle ear, otitis media, perforated eardrum and Eustachian tube dysfunction.
- Acoustic Reflex Test. Measures muscle contractions in the middle ear when exposed to sound. This is useful in identifying issues with the ossicles, cochlea, auditory nerve, facial nerve or brainstem.
- Bone Conduction Test. Tuning forks behind each ear send tones directly to the inner ear. This enables your audiologist to determine whether hearing loss is conductive (associated with the outer or middle ear) or sensorineural (an inner ear problem).