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Diagnostic Audiologic Evaluation

What is it?

The diagnostic auditory evaluation (or hearing test) is performed by the Audiologist to determine the type, degree, and severity of your hearing loss. This hearing test provides the Audiologist with valuable information needed to help make the best recommendation for your hearing needs. The hearing test is only one of many factors that helps the Audiologist determine if a hearing aid or alternate form of treatment is needed based on your results.

How is the hearing test performed?

For the hearing test, your audiologist will ask you to step inside a soundproof booth. This booth will ensure that outside sounds—such as noise from the office, phones ringing, music or traffic noise—will not be present during your hearing test, as they can skew your results. You’ll be asked to wear a set of headphones once inside the booth. The headphones will allow your audiologist to communicate with you, as well as administer the test.

Pure-Tone Audiometry

The first test your audiologist will administer is called the “pure-tone test” or “pure-tone audiometry.” Pure tones (also known as “sine waves”) are sounds that occupy only one frequency, whereas most sounds have timbres and overtones that occur at many frequencies.

Your audiologist will play a series of these tones into your headphones, and ask you to respond to them. The tones will vary in pitch and volume level, and may occur in your left ear, right ear, or sometimes both.

The results of your pure-tone test provide the most accurate image of your raw hearing ability.

Speech Audiometry

This portion of the test examines your speech reception threshold and word recognition. The tests are conducted in much the same way as the pure-tone test, but your audiologist will play the sounds of human speech instead of tones.

The speech reception threshold test will find the softest level at which you’re able to discern speech, while the word recognition test will record your ability to understand speech when it is loud enough. These tests provide your audiologist with important information about how well your brain is recognizing and interpreting speech.

If your hearing loss has gone untreated for a long time, it may be that training sessions will be useful once you start wearing hearing aids, and these tests will help your audiologist determine whether to recommend those.

We may also conduct a speech-in-noise test, which helps determine how loud background sound can be before you begin to have difficulty understanding speech. This test is useful in programming hearing aids.

The Audiogram

The results of your pure-tone test will be displayed on an audiogram. This is a graph, plotting the frequency spectrum on the x-axis and dBHL (decibels hearing level) on the y-axis. There will be a horizontal line representing normal hearing, and two additional horizontal lines representing your hearing ability in your left and right ears.

We will go over the results of your test with you, explain your audiogram, and recommend the next steps. If hearing aids are recommended, our team will go over options with you so you can start the decision-making process. We may also take an impression of your ears, if custom earpieces are to be employed.

How long does it take?

The diagnostic auditory evaluation usually lasts about 20-30 minutes.

Tympanometry:

What is it?

Tympanometry is a very useful evaluation we administer to record the integrity of your eardrum, your eustachian tube, the bones of your middle ear, as well as the middle ear space. This information tells your Audiologist how well your middle ear is functioning and can help rule out any middle ear problems or abnormalities.

How it is performed?

An air-tight seal is achieved using an ear tip on a device called a tympanometer. You will feel a momentary change of pressure in the ear accompanied by a low frequency hum.

How long does it take?

The exam takes several seconds in each ear. It is painless.

Acoustic Reflex Thresholds:

What is it?

By presenting a loud stimulus, the contraction of the stapedius muscle is measured. The stapedius muscle in the ear helps to protect our ears from loud sounds.

How it is performed?

With an air-tight seal in your ear, you will hear beeps which become louder. Whenever the stapedius muscle contracts, the loudness progression will stop. The equipment is automatic, and the contraction of the muscle is automatic. You will simply stay still while testing is occurring.

How long does it take?

The exam takes several seconds in each ear. It is painless.