A hearing evaluation is an in-depth assessment of an individual’s hearing by an audiologist. The objective of this hearing evaluation is to understand the degree and nature of the hearing loss as well as the optimal treatment solution. Audiologists use a number of different tests in this evaluation.
On your first visit to an audiologist, he or she will start by asking you questions about your medical and hearing case history. The audiologist will then examine your ears with a light, known as an otoscope, in order to check for issues in the canal that could alter the test results. Finally, the audiologist will conduct a test or series of tests to assess:
- Whether there is a hearing loss
- The possible reasons for hearing loss
- Configuration of hearing loss (one ear or both)
- The ideal treatment method
Hearing Evaluation: The TestsThere are a number of tests that we perform to evaluate the basic hearing function for a patient. The hearing evaluation includes: Video Otoscopic Exam, Air Conduction, Bone Conduction and Speech Audiometry testing. The tests consist of a series of high and low frequency tones along with a series of words to identify your ability to understand speech. The results will help us determine ability to understand speech, hearing loss percentage, and if there is a need for hearing aids.
Hearing Evaluation: Tympanometry
Tympanometry is a test to evaluate the movement of the tympanic membrane or the eardrum. The tip of a handheld tool is placed into the ear. The objective of the tool is to change the air pressure inside the ear while sounding a clear tone which causes the eardrum reaction. The reaction is monitored and used as the bases for the succeeding tests.
Hearing Evaluation: The Ability of the Ear
Several tests are conducted through headphones post tympanometry procedure. The first addresses pure tone which helps in determining the softest tone one can hear for at least half the time. In due course, different tones are played through the headphones asking for acknowledgements of the tone through a predetermined method usually “raise the hand” or “press a button”.
The subsequent procedure determines the speech reception threshold. In this test, several words are repeated until such time the administer finds the volume level at which the patient understands and repeat just half the words.
This is followed by a comfortable listening level procedure. The patient is asked to identify the level at which his ears can comfortably listen to a variety of sounds. This is similar to the upper level of the comfortable loudness procedure. Here it measures the loudest level of endurance of sound. Anything louder than this level would inflict physical pain.
The concluding test with the headphones is a speech discrimination evaluation or word recognition evaluation. A series of words are played considering the hearing comfort level. The patient is then asked to repeat the words. This analysis aids in determining the necessity of a hearing aid. If the administrator feels it is beneficial, then the patient is given one.
Lastly, to create a tone, the bone located at the rear of the ear is manipulated. The patient then indicates the comfort level of hearing that tone. This is to determine if the hearing loss is connected to the inner ear.
Apart from these tests, there are several other methods through which a hearing loss can be determined. Like the acoustic reflex test, Weber test and Rinne test.
It all depends on the patient’s condition for the tests to be recommended. One need not be ashamed of a hearing evaluation. Like every other part of our body, ear is should be maintained. It is more important than we term it to be. So, next time you are due for a checkup, ask for a hearing evaluation.