Diagnostic Audiological Evaluation
We perform an audiological evaluation to see if a hearing loss is present. If so, we detail the type and severity of the hearing loss. It also may provide insight into the cause of the hearing loss. Additionally, it can provide guidance for the audiologist in making the right treatment recommendations.
What Tests Will Be Done?
The specific tests we do during an audiological evaluation depends on the patient’s age, and what we already know about their hearing status. These various tests will show the degree of hearing loss, the type of hearing loss, and the conditions of the ear canal and middle ear. The audiologist will also see if the hearing loss is conductive (middle or outer ear problem) or sensorineural (inner ear problem or central processing difficulty of the brain).
A diagnostic audiological evaluation includes pure-tone testing, bone-conduction testing, and speech testing.
Pure-tone Air and Bone Conduction Testing
Pure-tone air conduction testing shows the quietest tones that a person can hear at different frequencies, both low and high. Bone conduction testing is similar to pure-tone air conduction testing. We use a different type of headphone during bone conduction testing. As a result, specialist can see if the hearing loss is coming from the outer/middle ear or from the inner ear.
A Speech Reception Threshold (SRT) test is often used with older children and adults to confirm the results of a pure-tone test. This test shows the lowest level at which patients recognize words or speech stimuli.
Word Discrimination Test
The audiologist determines the patient’s highest ability to understand speech under two conditions: relative quiet and comfortably loud. Finally, the audiologist tests to see if background noise affects the patient’s hearing.
We may do other testing based on a patient’s particular concerns and issues. The audiologist may also perform otoscopy (examining the ear canal) and tympanometry (test of the middle ear). This helps the audiologist determine the health of the ear canal and the middle ear.
Other tests may include:
- Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) screening
What Can I Expect During a Diagnostic Audiologic Evaluation?
The evaluation will probably last about 30 to 40 minutes in length. You should also allow time for discussion with the audiologist to review test results, and ask questions.
If we determine that you need hearing aids, allow for sufficient time to discuss your options.
We recommend that you bring a family member with you to the evaluation appointment. Most 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.
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. He or 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.
The diagnostic audiological evaluation is a good chance to establish a relationship with your audiologist. It helps to ask around for recommendations to audiologists in your area and find someone who listens carefully to your concerns. Above all, don’t be afraid to ask questions. You will want to be clear on any information you get so that you can be active in finding hearing solutions that work best for you and your lifestyle.