Hearing Tests

Hearing Tests

Audiology evaluations consist of a series of tests used to determine whether a hearing loss exists and, if so, measure its type, degree and configuration. An 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 Audiology Evaluation?

audiogram

An audiology (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.

Hearing tests are 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 audiology 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 audiology 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:

booth-test

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.

Instead of sending the tones through the ear, this type of testing is able to bypass the outer and middle ear and send the tone directly to the inner ear. 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.

If the results of this test are different than the air conduction test, your audiologist can use this information to determine whether you have a conductive or sensorineural hearing loss.

Alternatively, a two-pronged metal tuning fork may be placed behind the ear or on the forehead. When vibrated, it produces a tone that travels to the cochlea via the skull. Your response determines how well sound travels through different parts of your ear, helping the audiologist diagnose your type of hearing loss.

Bone conduction testing is often used in place of air conduction testing when an obstruction in the outer or middle ears is present.

hearing-eval

Speech Testing

Speech (or word recognition) testing is used to measure your speech reception threshold (SRT), or the faintest speech you can understand 50 percent of the time. This is compared with your pure-tone test results to confirm the diagnosis. In addition, your ability to separate speech from background noise will be recorded.

Speech testing may be administered in either a quiet or noisy environment; results are recorded on the audiogram for easy visual reference.

Tympanometry

Tympanometry is a test of the middle ear used to detect fluid, wax buildup, eardrum perforations and tumors. It measures movement of the eardrum in response to air pressure; the results are recorded on a chart called a tympanogram.

Acoustic Reflex Testing

The acoustic reflex test measures involuntary muscle contractions of the middle ear. It determines the location of your hearing problem as well as the type of hearing loss.

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)

Auditory brainstem response testing determines whether a specific type of hearing loss, sensorineural, exists. It also screens newborns for hearing problems.

In an ABR test, an audiologist attaches electrodes to your head, scalp or earlobes. You will also wear headphones. The response to sounds of varying intensities measures brain activity.

Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs)

Otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) are sounds made by vibrations of the hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear. OAE testing utilizes a tiny probe with a microphone and speaker. This stimulates the inner ear and measure its response. Individuals with normal hearing will produce sound. When a hearing loss is over 25-30 decibels, no sound will be produced.

This test determines whether there is a block in the ear, fluid in the middle ear or damage to the ear’s hair cells. OAE testing is often part of newborn hearing screening programs.

Call Lakeland Hearing Care at (863) 686-3189 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Lakeland Hearing Care is part of Central Florida Speech & Hearing Center, an organization that has been serving Polk County’s hearing needs for over 60 years.