Evaluate Your Hearing
When hearing loss is suspected, you should make an appointment for a hearing evaluation. This series of tests will help determine the extent of hearing loss, and is instrumental in helping your audiologist come up with a solution for treating your impairment.
Remember, the sooner hearing loss is identified, the better your chances of successfully treating it. Early detection gives you more options for treatment.
The Tests That Make Up a Hearing Evaluation
A hearing evaluation starts out with a thorough review of your medical history. Your audiologist will discuss your symptoms and conduct a physical examination of your ears using a lighted instrument known as an otoscope. This is followed by a series of hearing tests that will gauge your sensitivity to different volumes and frequencies.
The following tests usually make up a hearing evaluation:
- Pure Tone Audiometry. This test measures your hearing range. You will be given headphones and asked to identify a series of tones that vary in frequency and volume. Results are charted on an audiogram.
- Word Recognition. This test determines your ability to separate speech from background noise. It helps your audiologist determine whether hearing aids will help your particular hearing loss.
- Tympanometry. This test looks at how your ears react to different sounds and pressures by measuring the amount of eardrum movement in response to changes in air pressure. Your audiologist can use it to detect issues such as middle ear fluid, impacted earwax, a ruptured eardrum or acoustic neuroma.
- Acoustic Reflex. This test is used to diagnose problems with the ossicles, cochlea, auditory nerve, facial nerve or brainstem by measuring how the muscles of your middle ear react when exposed to sound.
- Bone Conduction. A series of tones are sent to tuning forks that have been placed behind each ear, allowing sounds to bypass the outer and middle ear and pass directly through the skull to the inner ear. This measures the hearing ability of your inner ear, and can determine whether your hearing loss is conductive or sensorineural.