Hearing Screenings

Hearing Screenings

Audiology evaluations consist of a series of tests used to determine whether a hearing loss exists and, if so, measure its type, degree and configuration. An audiologist will assess the results of each individual test in order to develop a treatment plan geared toward your unique hearing loss.

Who Should Be Given an Audiology Evaluation?

An audiology (or hearing) evaluation can benefit patients of all ages, even those who do not exhibit signs of hearing loss.

Hearing loss is a progressive condition that often develops slowly. Many people are not aware of a change in their hearing because they gradually adapt to the subtle changes in their hearing ability over time. Studies indicate that it takes seven years, on average, for a hearing impaired individual to seek treatment.

An audiology evaluation should be the first course of action for anybody who even suspects a hearing loss. The sooner a diagnosis of hearing loss is made, the more successful treatment will be. Early detection means more options for the patient.

Many physicians urge making audiology evaluations a routine part of your overall health care, much like regular vision exams and dental checkups. They are quick, painless and provide immediate results.

Pediatric Services

Nearly three of every one thousand babies are born with some form of hearing loss. In most cases, however, hearing issues aren’t discovered in children until they are at least two years old.

The first two years of a child’s life are hugely important in physical development as well as in forming emotional, learning and communication skills. Because of this, babies with moderate to severe hearing loss often experience major developmental setbacks.

Newborn hearing loss is very difficult to detect, which is why many cases go undiagnosed until the child reaches talking age. Often, the only way to identify and treat a hearing loss problem when it truly counts is to take your baby to an audiologist for an infant hearing screening.

ARB Testing

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) testing is frequently used to screen newborns for hearing problems. It measures the response of a baby’s hearing nerve using electrodes.

An auditory brainstem response (ABR) provides the audiologist with information on a child’s inner ear and the neuronal pathway that connects the ear to the brain. Electrodes are placed on the child’s head to record brain activity in response to sounds.

This is a subjective test, which makes it good for measuring hearing loss in children.

OAE Testing

Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) testing uses a microphone and earphone to calculate an infant’s hearing abilities by measuring the reflection of a sound’s echo as it passes through the ear canal. Otoacoustic emissions are the sounds given off by the inner ear when stimulated by sound.

This test is used to determine if there is damage to the hair cells that line the cochlea. Since the emissions are nearly inaudible, a small plug is placed into the ear in order to detect the ear’s reaction to a series of clicks.

This test is objective, making it is a useful addition to newborn hearing screenings.

Immittance Testing

When testing middle ear function in infants and young children, audiologists typically rely on either tympanometry or acoustic reflex testing.

Tympanometry is a test of the middle ear used to detect fluid, wax buildup, eardrum perforations and tumors. It measures movement of the eardrum in response to air pressure; the results are recorded on a chart called a tympanogram.

The acoustic reflex test measures involuntary muscle contractions of the middle ear and is used to determine the location of your hearing problem (the ossicles, cochlea, auditory nerve, etc.) as well as the type of hearing loss.

Audiology Exams

A comprehensive audiology evaluation consists of a series of individual diagnostic tests that measure different aspects of your hearing. Following a physical examination and a review of your medical history, you will be given any or all of the following tests:

Pure Tone Testing

Pure-tone testing (also known as pure tone audiometry) uses air conduction to measure your ability to hear sounds of various pitches and volumes. Wearing headphones, you will be asked to identify a series of tones by raising a hand, pressing a button, or responding verbally.

The results are charted on an audiogram, a graph that shows the type, degree and configuration of your hearing loss by comparing pitch (frequency) with loudness (intensity). The pattern recorded will help your audiologist determine your hearing threshold.

Bone Conduction Testing

Bone conduction testing is another type of pure-tone test that measures the inner ear’s response to sound. If there is damage or a blockage in the outer or middle ear, bone conduction audiometry testing may be used.

Instead of sending the tones through the ear, this type of testing is able to bypass the outer and middle ear and send the tone directly to the inner ear. A small vibrator is placed behind the ear. The device sends out a vibration that passes through the skull bone to reach the inner ear.

If the results of this test are different than the air conduction test, your audiologist can use this information to determine whether you have a conductive or sensorineural hearing loss.

Alternatively, a two-pronged metal tuning fork may be placed behind the ear or on the forehead. When vibrated, it produces a tone that travels to the cochlea via the skull. Your response determines how well sound travels through different parts of your ear, helping the audiologist diagnose your type of hearing loss.

Bone conduction testing is often used in place of air conduction testing when an obstruction in the outer or middle ears is present.

Speech Testing

Speech (or word recognition) testing is used to measure your speech reception threshold (SRT), or the faintest speech you can understand 50 percent of the time. This is compared with your pure-tone test results to confirm the diagnosis. In addition, your ability to separate speech from background noise will be recorded.

Speech testing may be administered in either a quiet or noisy environment; results are recorded on the audiogram for easy visual reference.

Middle Ear Testing

Middle ear tests are a series of tests used to measure how well the middle ear is functioning.

Tympanometry

Tympanometry is a test of the middle ear used to detect fluid, wax buildup, eardrum perforations and tumors. It measures movement of the eardrum in response to air pressure; the results are recorded on a chart called a tympanogram.

Acoustic Reflex Testing

The acoustic reflex test measures involuntary muscle contractions of the middle ear, and is used to determine the location of your hearing problem (the ossicles, cochlea, auditory nerve, etc.) as well as the type of hearing loss.

Call Advanced Hearing Solutions at (858) 312-1327 for more information or to schedule an appointment.