Diagnostic Audiologic Evaluations
Audiologic evaluation, commonly called a hearing test, is completed to determine if a hearing loss is present and, if present, the type and severity of hearing loss. It also may provide insight into the cause of the hearing loss as well as provide guidance for the audiologist in making appropriate treatment recommendations or referrals to other professionals.
What tests will be done?
The specific tests done during the evaluation will depend on the patient's age, symptoms and medical history. These various tests will determine the degree of hearing loss, the type of hearing loss and the conditions of the ear canal and middle ear. The audiologist will also establish whether the hearing loss is conductive (middle or outer ear problem) or sensorineural (inner ear problem or an issue with the auditory nerve and central auditory pathways).
Comprehensive evaluation will include otoscopy, pure-tone testing, bone conduction testing, speech testing and tympanometry but can also include speech in noise testing, tinnitus pitch and intensity match testing, acoustic reflex & reflex decay testing, and less commonly, otoacoustic emissions.
Pure-tone and bone conduction testing
Pure-tone testing determines the quietest tones that a person can hear at different frequencies (pitches), both low and high. Bone conduction testing is similar to pure-tone, however, a different type of headset is used to provide the audiologist with different information. A bone conduction test will help the audiologist determine whether the loss is conductive or sensorineural in nature.
A speech reception threshold (SRT) test is used to confirm the results of a pure-tone test. This test determines the lowest level of sound the patient can clearly identify words or speech. Speech discrimination testing evaluates ability to understand words when presented at louder but comfortable levels. Speech in noise testing assesses the ability to follow conversation in the presence of noise.
Otoscopy and Tympanometry:
Otoscopy (physical examination of the outer ear, ear canal, and eardrum) and tympanometry (test of the middle ear) will be performed to determine the health of the ear canal and the middle ear.
What can I expect during a diagnostic hearing evaluation?
The appointment will last about 40-60 minutes in length, which includes the needed time discuss your history as well review test results and answer any questions you may have.
If it is determined that hearing devices are an appropriate course of action, allow for additional time to discuss your options. Appointments are often scheduled to allow additional time for hearing device consultation, demonstration, or same day fitting when appropriate.
It is recommended that you bring a family member with you to the evaluation appointment. Hearing loss is a family issue, and it helps to have another supportive person at the appointment to help you understand your results and the audiologist's recommendations.
The diagnostic audiologic evaluation is a good chance to establish a positive relationship with your audiologist. Above all, don't be afraid to ask questions. You will want to understand test results clearly so you can be an active participant in finding hearing solutions that work best for you and your lifestyle.