Audiological evaluations consist of a series of tests used to determine whether a hearing loss exists and, if so, measure its type, degree and configuration. Our audiologist will assess the results of each individual test in order to develop a treatment plan geared toward your unique hearing loss.
Who Should Be Given an Audiological Evaluation?
An audiological (or hearing) evaluation can benefit patients of all ages, even those who do not exhibit signs of hearing loss.
Hearing loss is a progressive condition that often develops slowly. Many people are not aware of a change in their hearing because they gradually adapt to the subtle changes in their hearing ability over time. Studies indicate that it takes seven years, on average, for a hearing impaired individual to seek treatment.
A medical evaluation including an audiological evaluation should be the first course of action for anybody who even suspects a hearing loss. The sooner a diagnosis of hearing loss is made, the more successful treatment will be. Early detection means more options for the patient.
Many physicians urge making audiological evaluations a routine part of your overall health care, much like regular vision exams and dental checkups. They are quick, painless and provide immediate results.
What Does Diagnostic Testing Entail?
A comprehensive audiological evaluation consists of a series of individual diagnostic tests that measure different aspects of your hearing. Following a physical examination and a review of your medical history, you will be given any or all of the following tests:
Pure Tone Testing
Pure-tone testing (also known as pure tone audiometry) uses air conduction to measure your ability to hear sounds of various pitches and volumes. Wearing headphones, you will be asked to identify a series of tones by raising a hand, pressing a button, or responding verbally.
The results are charted on an audiogram, a graph that shows the type, degree and configuration of your hearing loss by comparing pitch (frequency) with loudness (intensity). The pattern recorded will help your audiologist determine your hearing threshold.
Bone Conduction Testing
Bone conduction testing is another type of pure-tone test that measures the inner ear’s response to sound. If there is damage or a blockage in the outer or middle ear, bone conduction audiometry testing may be used.
A small vibrator is placed behind the ear. The device sends out a vibration that passes through the skull bone to reach the inner ear.
The audiologist compares the air conduction and bone conduction test results to help determine whether the hearing loss is conductive or sensorineural.
There are two steps of speech testing:
- You will be asked to repeat compound words as they become softer and softer. The Speech Reception Threshold (SRT) is determined at the presentation level where you are able to repeat only 50% of the words presented.
- A list of words will be presented at a comfortable listening level and the audiologist looks at the percentage of correct repetitions. This is called your Word Recognition Ability and this is the most important speech information that we obtain during speech testing.
Speech testing may be administered in either a quiet or noisy environment; results are recorded on the audiogram for easy visual reference.
Tympanometry is a test of the middle ear used to detect or confirm mild ear fluid, fixation of the middle ear bones and/or eardrum perforations. It measures movement of the eardrum in response to air pressure changes; the results are recorded on a chart called a tympanogram.
Acoustic Reflex Testing
The acoustic reflex test measures the reflexive contraction of muscles found in the middle ear that are elicited by loud tones. These are used to determine the location of your hearing problem (the ossicles, cochlea, auditory nerve, etc.) as well as the type of hearing loss.
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs)
OAEs are responses to tonal stimuli that stimulate the inner ear hair cells. This test assists in identifying damage to those structures. Individuals with normal hearing will produce emissions. Usually, when the hearing loss exceeds 25-30 dBHL, the OAE response will be absent.
This test helps determine whether there is excess fluid in the middle ear or damage to the hair cells of the cochlea. OAE testing is often included in newborn hearing screening programs.
Call Barrington Hearing Center at (847) 382-5700 for more information or to schedule an appointment.