You will undergo a hearing evaluation as the first step in diagnosing hearing loss.
A comprehensive evaluation consists of a series of individual tests that will help determine the extent and type of hearing loss. Our audiologists are skilled in conducting a number of tests to help in diagnosis and treatment.
Hearing tests are completely safe and painless. They are performed in a soundproof booth and results are plotted on a graph that shows the patient’s hearing response at different frequencies. This is called an audiogram, and will help your audiologist determine the best way to treat any hearing loss.
A typical hearing evaluation includes a number of separate hearing tests:
Acoustic reflex test. Measures involuntary muscle contractions of the middle ear, and is used to determine the location of the hearing problem (the ossicles, cochlea, auditory nerve, etc.) as well as the type of hearing loss.
Auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing. Used to determine whether a specific type of hearing loss—sensorineural—exists. It is also frequently used to screen newborns for hearing loss.
Otoacoustic emissions (OAEs). Sounds are generated by vibrations of the hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear. OAE testing utilizes a tiny probe fitted with a microphone and speaker that is used to stimulate the cochlea and measure its response.
Pure-tone testing, or pure tone audiometry. Uses air conduction to measure your ability to hear sounds of various pitches and volumes.
Bone conduction testing. Another type of pure-tone test that measures the inner ear’s response to sound.
Speech, or word recognition testing. Used to measure the speech reception threshold (SRT), or the faintest speech you can understand 50 percent of the time.
Tympanometry. A test of the middle ear used to detect fluid, wax buildup, eardrum perforations and tumors.
Even individuals who do not suspect hearing loss should consider regular hearing tests once they reach the age of 50. However, they’re not just for older adults. Babies and toddlers too should have their hearing tested in order to prevent delays in speech and language development should a hearing impairment exist.