Hearing Tests For All Ages
Review of Hearing Health
To begin your Audiological Evaluation (hearing test), our audiologist will review your health history and ask questions designed to learn more about your hearing concerns. For example, you may be asked about your symptoms, your history of noise exposure, your family’s history of hearing loss, and the specific types of environments in which you experience difficulty hearing. Throughout the hearing test, feel free to ask questions of your audiologist as well.
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Physical Examination of the Ears
Once the doctor understands your specific situation, he or she will conduct a physical examination of your ears by looking into them with a special instrument called an otoscope. Using the otoscope, your audiologist can view your ear drum and look for issues like earwax obstructing the ear canal and signs of infections in the ear.
The primary test in an Audiological Evaluation is the pure-tone test. It is administered in a sound-treated booth to reduce outside noise, the pure-tone test determines the quietest point (threshold) you can hear various frequencies (tones) of sounds. Your doctor will place headphones either in or over your ears and another device behind your ear to evaluate your hearing acuity, using a specially calibrated piece of equipment called an audiometer. The audiometer sends a series of tones or beeps at different levels or volumes to your ears. When you hear a sound, you will be asked to press a button, raise a hand or finger or say "Yes" to indicate you heard the sound – it’s as simple as that!
Another important part of the Audiological Evaluation is speech testing. During speech testing you will listen to a series of one and two-syllable words at different volumes and then be asked to repeat them. This test checks two different aspects of hearing and understanding speech. First, it will determine the quietest level you can detect speech, and it will also determine how well you understand speech. Depending on your specific situation, your audiologist may also wish to conduct a speech-in-noise test. This additional examination will establish how well you hear and comprehend sentences in a noisy environment.
The results of your Audiological Evaluation are recorded on an Audiogram. It will contains graphics that illustrate the type, pattern, and degree of your hearing loss. Together, you and your audiologist will review the information in detail. The audiogram will reflect your hearing loss in frequencies and decibels, and it will reveal the percentage of normal conversational speech that you are capable of hearing. Your audiologist will make connections between the audiogram and your concerns about your hearing, so that you can begin exploring treatment options.
Tests of the Middle Ear
Your audiologist may also take measurements of how well your eardrum and middle ear are functioning. These measurements include tympanometry, acoustic reflex measures, and static acoustic measures. These tests help determine if there is fluid in the middle ear, perforation (a hole) in the eardrum, or wax blocking the ear canal. Tympanometry pushes air pressure into the ear canal, making the eardrum move back and forth - kind of like going up in the mountains and back down quickly.
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs)
Another test your audiologist may conduct is Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs). OAEs are sounds given off by the inner ear (cochlea) when it is stimulated by a sound. When sound stimulates the cochlea, specialized nerve cells called outer hair cells vibrate. The vibration produces a nearly inaudible sound that echoes back into the middle ear. The sound can be measured with a small probe inserted into the ear canal.
As you can see, an audiologic evaluation is much more than "just a hearing test"!
Review of Results
After the Audiological Evaluation is completed, your audiologist will review each component of it with you to obtain a profile of hearing abilities and needs. You and your audiologist will then create an appropriate plan of action, which may include:
Hearing aid, Implant, or Sensory aid Assessment
Assessment for Assistive Listening Device(s)
Hearing Rehabilitation Assessment
Speech-Language Assessment and/or Counseling
When you leave the appointment, your newfound knowledge of your hearing health should lead to hope for the future. Using the latest developments in auditory research, state-of-the-art technology, and years of education and experience, our audiologists will work with you to find an effective treatment that works for you.