Improving your hearing to improve your life

Diagnostic Audiologic Evaluation

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It is important to have your hearing checked on a yearly basis, just like your vision. The evaluation is done to determine if a hearing loss is present; and if so, to detail the type and severity of the 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.


What Tests Will Be Done?

The following various tests/exams will determine the degree of hearing loss and type of hearing loss. The audiologist will also determine if the hearing loss is conductive (middle or outer ear problem), sensorineural (inner ear problem or central processing difficulty of the brain) or mixed which is a combination of the two types of hearing loss.

Testing could also lead to determination of conditions of the ear canal and middle ear. 

Audiological Testing Includes:

OTOSCOPIC EXAM
Determine if the ear canal is free of wax or any other obstructions, as well as to visualize the ear drum.
 
CASE HISTORY 
Allows us a complete picture of your health and possible hearing health related issues; including but not limited to balance problems, ringing in the ears, head trauma, loud noise exposure and any past ear problems or surgeries. Before your appointment, a complete medical history will be completed and the audiologist will want to hear about any complaints you have about your hearing. She will pay special attention to any concerns you have about exposure to noise, tinnitus, and balance problems. Make sure that you take a full list of any medications and supplements you are taking with you to your appointment.
 
TYMPANOMETRY
Acoustic evaluation of the condition of the middle, ear eardrum and the conduction bones by creating variations of air pressure in the ear canal. Tympanometry is an objective test of middle-ear function. 
 
PURE-TONE AUDIOMETRY
Tones are presented to see the lowest (quietest) level of hearing, testing each ear individually. Each frequency is also tested individually, low to high. Just like a piano keyboard, bass to treble.
 
BONE CONDUCTION AUDIOMETRY 
Testing that bypasses the outer and middle ear to help determine the type of hearing loss present. Audiologists use this type of testing when something, such as wax or fluid, is blocking your outer or middle ear. For this test, the audiologist will put a small device behind your ear. The sounds sent through this device cause your skull to gently vibrate.
 
SPEECH AUDIOMETRY
While pure-tone audiometry measures your hearing abilities, speech recognition testing measures your hearing comprehension. We test speech audiometry with two different test.
Speech Recognition Thresholds
The minimum hearing level for speech that is recognizable. These thresholds allow audiologist to establish level of awareness. 
Word Recognition Scores 
Words are presented to see how well you can discriminate one word from another as well as the softest speech you can understand. With hearing loss, sometimes speech can be distorted and it is important to see what damage to the speech sounds from the hearing loss has occurred.

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Other tests may include:

OTOACOUSTIC EMISSIONS (OAE)
Measures the hair cell function in the inner ear. An emission refers to the sound generated within the normal cochlea of the ear in response to stimulation.
 
UNCOMFORTABLE LOUDNESS LEVELS (UCL)
Audiologists can use UCLs to identify the sound levels that are perceived as “too loud.”
 
MOST COMFORTABLE LOUDNESS LEVELS (MCL)
Audiologist can use MCLs to determine sound level at which speech is most comfortable for an individual.

What Can I Expect During a Diagnostic Audiologic Evaluation?

The audiological evaluation will take roughly 30 minutes in length. Following your audiological evaluation, you will meet with one of our Doctors of audiology to review your test results, discuss options for your hearing loss, and allow you ask questions.
        

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It is recommended that you bring a family member or friend with you to the audiological evaluation/hearing aid evaluation appointment. Most audiologists agree that hearing loss is a family issue, that needs to be supported. It helps to have another supportive person at the appointment to help you understand the information and recommendations.

Complete Medical History

The diagnostic audiologic evaluation is a good chance to establish a relationship with your audiologist. It helps to ask around for recommendations for audiologists in your area and find someone who listens carefully to your concerns. There is a drastic difference in hearing health education between a Doctor of Audiology and a hearing instrument specialist.  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.