A diagnostic hearing evaluation is the first step in determining your hearing capability. If you have a hearing loss, the test will detail the extent, type, and specifics of your particular hearing loss. The diagnostic hearing evaluation should be performed by a state licensed audiologist, in a soundbooth, using equipment called an audiometer.
The diagnostic hearing evaluation consists of a variety of tests to determine the unique aspects of your hearing loss, including the level at which you can detect and understand speech. This evaluation can be conducted on individuals of any age, from newborns to seniors.
What Can I Expect During a Diagnostic Hearing Evaluation?
The evaluation will probably last about 30 minutes in length. During this time your audiologist will take a case history, do the testing, discuss the results and allow time for you to ask questions.
If the determination is made that you need hearing aids, a hearing aid consultation will be scheduled as a separate appointment to fully discuss your hearing loss and hearing aid options.
It is recommended that you bring a family member with you to the evaluation and hearing aid consultation appointments. Audiologists agree that hearing loss is a family issue. It helps to have another supportive person at the appointment to help you understand the information and recommendations.
During your appointment, a medical history will be completed and the audiologist will discuss any concerns you may have regarding your hearing loss, tinnitus or balance issues.
The diagnostic hearing evaluation is a good chance to establish a relationship with your audiologist. It is important to work with a professional who listens carefully to your concerns and addresses your lifestyle needs. Above all, don’t be afraid to ask questions. You will want to be clear on any information you receive so that you can be an active participant in finding hearing solutions that work best for you and your lifestyle.
The diagnostic hearing evaluation is covered by most health insurance policies, although you may need a referral from your primary care physician to quality for coverage.
What Tests Will Be Done?
The specific tests done during the evaluation will depend on the patient’s age, and what is known already about their hearing status. These various tests will determine the degree of hearing loss, the conditions of the ear canal and middle ear, and the type of hearing loss: conductive (middle or outer ear problem) or sensorineural (inner ear problem).
Adult Hearing Evaluations:
Any or all of these tests may be completed at your examination:
Otoscopy: After completing a case history, the audiologist will perform a visual examination of the ear canal. The removal of cerumen (ear wax) or other debris may need to be completed prior to testing.
Tympanometry and acoustic reflexes: This test assesses the integrity of the middle ear to determine if there is the presence of middle ear fluid or any abnormality of the tympanic membrane (eardrum). Acoustic reflexes test the reaction of the middle ear musculature and nerves.
Pure-tone Air and Bone Conduction Testing: Pure-tone air conduction testing assesses outer ear, middle ear and inner hearing ability by evaluating the quietest tones that a person can hear for low, mid and high frequencies. Bone conduction testing helps the audiologist determine if the hearing loss is originating from the outer/middle ear or from the inner ear. A different type of headphone is used during bone conduction testing,
Speech Testing: A speech reception threshold (SRT) test is a validating test used to confirm the results of a pure-tone testing. This test determines the lowest level at which the patient can recognize words or speech stimuli.
Word recognition testing is used to determine how clearly speech is understood in a quiet setting and can also be tested in background noise. This will help determine how noise may affect your ability to communicate in restaurants, social gatherings or other noisy environments.
Pediatric Hearing Evaluations:
Specialized tests exist for infants and young children, as well as children and adults with developmental and cognitive impairments. These more-specialized tests allow the audiologist to test the auditory system when the patient is not able to actively participate in the tests or evaluation. For more information, please refer to the Pediatric Audiology section.
Along with the evaluation, you should expect to have time to review the results with the audiologist. They can interpret the tests for you, answer your questions, provide you with information and referrals as needed, as well as begin planning for treatment, if indicated.
At All About Hearing our audiologists have completed their Doctoral degree in the field of audiology and are specialists in the areas involving hearing loss for adults and children, vestibular and balance issues, tinnitus and amplification options including hearing aids.
Why a Diagnostic Hearing Evaluation is Important
Diagnostic hearing evaluations identify hearing loss, and give your audiologist important information to help determine the best course of action for treatment. Some types of hearing loss can be treated medically or surgically, so it’s important that these types of hearing losses be ruled out before hearing aids or other treatments are considered.
If it is determined that your hearing loss can be treated medically or surgically, we will refer you to one of our Ear, Nose and Throat physicians (ENT’s) at Alpine Ear, Nose & Throat, PC.
If it is determined that you could benefit from hearing aids, the diagnostic hearing evaluation helps your audiologist know which hearing aids will be most appropriate for your needs.