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Diagnostic Hearing Evaluations

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A diagnostic hearing evaluation is the first step in determining your hearing capability. If you have a hearing loss, the evaluation will detail the extent, type, and specifics of your particular hearing loss. The diagnostic hearing evaluation will be performed by Mr. Barth in a sound proof room or a controlled office environment.  The most commonly utilized equipment is the audiometer (see picture on banner on home page).

The diagnostic hearing evaluation consists of a variety of tests to determine the unique aspects of your hearing loss, as well as the level at which you can detect and understand speech. This evaluation can be conducted on people of any age, from newborn infants to seniors.

What Tests Will Be Done:

The specific tests done during the evaluation will depend on the patient’s age, and what is known already about their hearing status. These various tests will the degree of hearing loss, the type of hearing loss, and the conditions of the ear canal and middle ear. Mr. Barth may also determine if the hearing loss is conductive (middle or outer ear problem) or sensorineural (inner ear problem), or a central loss (a processing difficulty of the brain). A diagnostic audiologic evaluations includes pure-tone testing, bone-conduction testing, and speech testing.

Pure-tone Air and Bone Conduction Testing:

Pure-tone air conduction testing determines the quietest tones that a person can hear at different frequencies, both low and high.  The technique for bone conduction testing is similar to pure-tone air conduction testing. However, a bone conduction oscillator, placed behind the ear, is used in lieu of a head phone.  Comparing the air conduction and bone conduction test results will help the Audiologist determine whether the hearing loss is originating from the outer/middle ear or from the inner ear.

Speech Testing:

A speech reception threshold (SRT) test is often used with school aged children and adults to confirm the results of a pure-tone test. This test determines the lowest level at which the patient can recognize words or speech stimuli. Speech discrimination tests determine your best hearing "acuity" under ideal conditions.

The audiologist may also perform otoscopy (examining the ear canal) and tympanometry (test of the middle ear) to determine the health of the ear canal and the middle ear.

Other specialized tests exist for infants and young children, as well as children and adults with developmental and cognitive impairments. These more-specialized tests allow the audiologist to test the auditory system when the patient is not able to actively reliably respond to more traditional  testing techniques. These specialized tests include:

  • Auditory brainstem response (ABR)
  • Visual reinforcement and conditioned play audiometry

Why a Diagnostic Hearing Evaluation is Important

Diagnostic hearing evaluations identify hearing loss, and give Mr. Barth 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 kinds of hearing losses be ruled out before hearing aids or other therapies or treatments are considered. If your hearing loss appears to be one that could be helped medically or surgically, Mr. Barth will refer you to the appropriate medical personnel for that.

If, on the other hand, it is determined that the best course of treatment is hearing aids, the diagnostic hearing evaluation is a good starting point in determining which hearing aids will be most appropriate for your needs.

What Can I Expect During a Diagnostic Hearing Evaluation?

The testing portion of the appointment usually lasts approximately 30 to 40 minutes. However, you should plan the entire visit might last one hour  This would allow sufficient time for questions and a discussion of the test resullts.

If the determination is made that you need hearing aids, this would also allow for sufficient time to discuss your options.

It is recommended that you bring a family member with you to the evaluation appointment. Mr. Barth strongly believes that one person's hearing loss often becomes a family issue. Therefore, it helps to have another supportive person at the appointment to assist in your understanding of  the information and recommendations.

 A complete case history is obtained prior to the evaluation. Following the evaluation, a report is supplied to you & a referring Physician.

If you or your child has been referred for a diagnostic audiologic evaluation, it means that hearing loss needs to be ruled out or further examined. The 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 in to the cause of the hearing loss as well as provide guidance for the audiologist in making appropriate treatment recommendations.

What Tests Will Be Done?

The specific tests done during the evaluation will depend on the patient’s age, and what is known already about their hearing status. These various tests will the degree of hearing loss, the type of hearing loss, and the conditions of the ear canal and middle ear. The audiologist will also determine if the hearing loss is conductive (middle or outer ear problem) or sensorineural (inner ear problem or central processing difficulty of the brain).

A diagnostic audiologic evaluations includes pure-tone testing, bone-conduction testing, and speech testing.

Pure-tone Air and Bone Conduction Testing

Pure-tone air conduction 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 air conduction testing. A different type of headphone is used during bone conduction testing, and the results help the specialist determine if the hearing loss is originating from the outer/middle ear or from the inner ear.

Speech Testing

A speech reception threshold (SRT) test is often used with older children and adults to confirm the results of a pure-tone test. This test determines the lowest level at which the patient can recognize words or speech stimuli.

The audiologist may also perform otoscopy (examining the ear canal) and tympanometry (test of the middle ear) to determine the health of the ear canal and the middle ear.

Specialized tests exist for infants and young children, as well as children and adults with developmental and cognitive impairments. These more-specialized tests allow the audiologist to test the auditory system when the patient is not able to actively participate in the tests or evaluation.

Other tests may include:

  • Auditory brainstem response (ABR)
  • Visual reinforcement and conditioned play audiometry for children

For children, it is important to have a diagnostic audiologic evaluation whenever a hearing loss is suspected. It is the first step in identifying hearing loss and dealing with it to improve quality of life.

Along with the evaluation, you should generally expect to have time to review the results with the audiologist. He can interpret the tests for you, answer your questions, provide you with information and referrals as needed, as well as begin planning for treatment, if indicated.

Audiologists are specialists in hearing and hearing rehabilitation. Never hesitate to ask your audiologist for clarification or further information on anything you do not understand.