The first step in diagnosing hearing loss is to undergo a hearing evaluation. A comprehensive evaluation consists of a series of individual tests that will help determine the extent and type of hearing loss. Our certified audiologists are skilled in conducting a number of tests to help figure out a solution to your condition.
The Importance of Hearing Tests
Not all patients who experience hearing loss are aware of their condition. Symptoms tend to develop gradually over an extended period of time.
Hearing tests may help detect a problem early, improving your chances of successful treatment.
Even if you do not suspect hearing loss, regular hearing tests should be considered a necessary part of your overall health screening once you reach the age of 50. And they’re not just for older adults; babies and toddlers should have their hearing tested in order to prevent delays in speech and language development should a hearing impairment exist.
Hearing tests are completely safe and painless. They are performed in a sound booth and results are plotted on a graph that shows your hearing response at different frequencies. This is called an audiogram and it will help the audiologist determine the best way to treat your hearing loss.
A typical hearing evaluation is comprised of a number of separate hearing tests, including:Air Conduction Test
- In this test, sometimes referred to as Audiometry, you will be given headphones and asked to respond to pure tones of varying volume and frequency levels by raising a hand, pressing a button, or giving a verbal reply. Your responses will determine how well you can hear at different frequencies and can indicate whether your hearing loss is conductive or sensorineural.
Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)
- In an ABR test, electrodes are attached to your head, scalp and earlobes and you are given headphones to wear. A series of clicking noises is sent through the headphones and the electrodes measure your brainwave activity in response to these sounds. It is a reliable indicator of sensorineural hearing loss and is often used in newborn hearing screening programs.
- Speech testing is used to measure your speech reception and word recognition abilities. During this test, you are asked to repeat words and phrases delivered at normal conversational levels. Testing may be performed in quiet or noisy backgrounds.
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs)
- In an OAE test, a probe containing a microphone and speaker is inserted into the ear canal and sound is generated. This stimulates the cochlea and causes the tiny hair cells to vibrate in response, producing their own faint sound known as an otoacoustic emission. When hearing loss exceeds 25–30 decibels (dB), no sounds will be produced. OAE testing is commonly used in newborn hearing screening.