Hearing evaluations are tests given to measure how sensitive an individual’s hearing is. They are the first step in diagnosing the type and degree of hearing loss (if present).
Because early detection of hearing loss aids in treatment and many people are unaware of impaired hearing, regular hearing evaluations are considered every bit as important as routine eye exams.
The earlier hearing loss is detected, the better the chances of successful treatment.
Tests Involved in a Hearing Evaluation
A full hearing evaluation consists of a series of tests, beginning with an overview of your medical history. You will be asked questions about your hearing ability, and your doctor will examine your ears with an otoscope. This is followed by a number of different hearing tests that measure your sensitivity to different frequencies. These include:
- Pure Tone Audiometry. You are given headphones and asked to identify tones playing at different frequencies and volume levels. Your responses will help measure the range of your hearing abilities.
- Word Recognition. This test determines how well you can separate speech from background noises. It is a great indicator as to whether hearing aids might benefit your type of hearing loss.
- Tympanometry. Changes in air pressure stimulate movement of the eardrum; just how much helps your audiologist diagnose problems that might be preventing normal hearing such as earwax, fluid in the middle ear, and eardrum perforation.
- Acoustic Reflex Test. This test measures muscle contractions in the middle ear when sound is introduced, and can be used to identify problems with the ossicles, cochlea, auditory nerve, facial nerve or brainstem.
- Bone Conduction Test. In order to determine whether hearing loss is affecting the outer, middle or inner ears, tuning forks are placed behind each ear and a series of tones is introduced directly to the inner ear.