How Audiologists Assess Hearing Loss
Are you concerned about the possibility of hearing loss? Whether you suspect hearing loss in a loved one or you think you may have hearing loss, you may be wondering how hearing loss is assessed. Audiologists assess hearing loss with hearing screenings and hearing evaluations. Both are painless procedures. Here is what they do.
Hearing screenings can be performed at any age. The type of screening used depends on the age of the individual. Screenings are usually performed to determine if you should see an audiologist. Screenings are a “pass” and “fail” test. If you fail a screening it means some type and level of hearing loss is present.
A hearing test is a complete hearing assessment by an audiologist. The audiologist’s goal is to determine the degree of hearing loss and the type of hearing loss. Their assessment will determine if hearing loss affects one or both ears. As a result, the audiologist will recommend strategies and devices to help you get the most from your remaining hearing.
- Visual exam: The audiologist will use an otoscope to look into your ears for any obstruction. You will be asked about past health issues, current medications and supplements you take. Ear infections and some medications can cause hearing loss so it is important to be open and honest with the audiologist.
- Pure-tone testing: Some hearing screenings use pure-tone testing. Even if it was used during screening, the audiologist will repeat the test and provide you with an audiogram charting the test results. This test is easy. You just listen for the sounds coming from headphones and respond as directed.
- Speech reception threshold: The audiologist may use this test to confirm the pure-tone test. This test determines the softest level of speech you can hear half the time. It is generally performed with background noise and in silence
- Acoustic reflex measure: The audiologist uses this test to help determine the location of the hearing loss. This tests the function of the middle ear by evaluating the level of sound at which a muscle in the middle ear contracts in response to noise.
- Tympanometry: This is another middle ear test. It is used if there is a history of ear infections that may have damaged the eardrum. A small puff of air is blown into the ear canal to make the eardrum vibrate. Tympanometry is used to determine if there is fluid in the ear, earwax build-up or a hole in the eardrum. It can also let the audiologist know if the eardrum is vibrating too much or not enough.
- Static acoustic impedance: The audiologist uses this test to determine the volume of air in the ear canal. It is used to identify damage in the middle ear that can cause problems with hearing.
The tests performed by the audiologist to assess hearing are not painful and should not be feared. The results of the assessment will allow the audiologist to recommend hearing aids to help you make the most of the hearing you have.