Diagnostic Audiologic Evaluation
If you have been referred for a diagnostic audiologic evaluation, it means that your hearing needs to be further examined. A diagnostic audiologic evaluation may be indicated for individuals who did not pass an initial hearing screening.
The evaluation is done to determine if a hearing loss is present and, if so, to detail the type and severity of the hearing loss. It also may provide insight into the cause of the hearing loss as well as provide guidance in making appropriate treatment recommendations- or referrals to other professionals.
The comprehensive evaluation will determine the degree of hearing loss, the type of hearing loss and the conditions of the ear canal and middle ear. The hearing care professional will also establish if the hearing loss is conductive (middle or outer ear problem) or sensorineural (inner ear problem or an issue with the auditory nerve and central auditory pathways).
At a minimum, a diagnostic audiologic evaluation includes pure-tone testing, bone conduction testing and speech testing.
Pure-tone and Bone Conduction Testing
Pure-tone testing determines the quietest tones that a person can hear at different frequencies, both low and high. Bone conduction testing is similar to pure-tone, however, a different type of headset is used to provide the hearing care professional with different information. A bone conduction test will help the hearing care professional determine whether the loss is conductive in nature or sensorineural.
A speech reception threshold (SRT) test is used to confirm the results of a pure-tone test. This test determines the lowest level of sound the patient can clearly identify words or speech.
The audiologist will also perform otoscopy (physical examination of the outer ear and, ear canal and eardrum) and tympanometry (test of the middle ear) to determine the health of the ear canal and the middle ear.
What can I expect during a Hearing Evaluation?
The evaluation will last about 30-40 minutes in length. You should also allow time for discussion with the hearing care professional to review test results and ask questions.
If the results indicate 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 hearing care professionals 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.
A complete medical history will be completed and the hearing care professional will want to hear about any complaints you have about your hearing. They 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 evaluation is a good chance to establish a relationship with your hearing care professional. 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.