Diagnostic Hearing Tests
While commonly referred to as a “hearing test”, the hearing evaluation is not so much a test, but instead a careful measurement of your hearing levels, similar to the optometrist’s measurement of your visual acuity. We ask you about events in your life that might have affected your hearing. We measure your ears’ sensitivity to soft sounds, your tolerance for loud sounds, and your accuracy in distinguishing speech sounds. We also check the status of your eardrums and identify whether any significant obstruction, such as ear wax, is evident in your ear canals.
If your hearing levels are not “up to par”, the various measurements we’ve made tell us what is going on with your ears. Routinely, diminished hearing ability is attributable to fading nerve sensitivity from the accumulated effects of aging, noise exposure and heredity. Less often, the hearing evaluation results might point to some other issue that needs to be addressed by your physician or your Ear, Nose & Throat doctor.
We strive to explain your evaluation results to you in a manner that is understandable and useful to you.
Your hearing evaluation will be done by a licensed, experienced Audiologist, not by a “technician”, “assistant”, “hearing aid specialist” or “prosthetologist”.
A diagnostic hearing evaluation may include the following tests:
- Air conduction testing
- Bone conduction testing
- Speech testing
- Distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAE) testing
- Auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing
- Tympanometry or acoustic immittance testing
The diagnostic hearing evaluation is covered by most health insurance policies, though you may need a referral from your primary care physician to quality for coverage.
Why a Diagnostic Hearing Evaluation is Important
Diagnostic hearing evaluations identify hearing loss, and give your audiologist important information to help determine the best course of action for treatment. Some types of hearing loss can be treated medically or surgically, so it's important that these types of hearing losses be ruled out before hearing aids or other treatments are considered.
If it is determined that you could benefit from hearing aids, the diagnostic hearing evaluation helps your audiologist know which hearing aids will be most appropriate for your needs.
What Can I Expect During a Diagnostic Hearing Evaluation?
The evaluation will probably last about 30 to 40 minutes in length. You should also allow for time for discussion with the audiologist to review test results, and ask questions.
If the determination is made that you need hearing aids, allow for sufficient time to discuss your options.
It is recommended that you bring a family member with you to the evaluation appointment. Most audiologists agree that hearing loss is a family issue. It helps to have another supportive person at the appointment to help you understand the information and recommendations.
Before your appointment, a complete medical history will be completed and the audiologist will want to hear about any complaints you have about your hearing. He or she will pay special attention to any concerns you have about exposure to noise, tinnitus, and balance problems. Make sure that you take a full list of any medications and supplements you are taking with you to your appointment.
The diagnostic hearing evaluation is a good chance to establish a relationship with your audiologist. Don't be afraid to ask questions. You will want to be clear on any information you receive so that you can be an active participant in finding hearing solutions that work best for you and your lifestyle.