Diagnostic Audiologic Evaluation
If you have been referred for a diagnostic audiologic evaluation, it means that your hearing needs to be further examined. This may be because you failed a hearing screening, have mentioned to your physician that your hearing has changed, you have developed tinnitus, or are being evaluated for other conditions such as vertigo.
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. This testing will allow your audiologist to make recommendations for treatments and for additional medical referrals as needed.
What tests will be done?
The testing that is performed will depend on why you were referred. The audiologist 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 sounds that a person can hear at different pitches, from low pitches to high pitches. High pitch or high frequency hearing loss is common with age-related and noise-induced hearing loss.
Bone conduction testing is like the pure-tone test, however instead of insert earphones, the testing will be performed with a headband worn behind the ear. This helps your audiologist determine if hearing loss originates in the eardrum or middle ear (conductive hearing loss), or if it is coming from the inner ear (sensorineural hearing loss -- this is the most common type of loss).
Testing will be performed to determine how well you are able to understand speech at different sound levels. This helps the audiologist determine how well your brain is processing sounds.
Your audiologist may also perform speech-in-noise testing to determine your ability to separate speech from background noise. This test can be important when reviewing hearing aid options.
The audiologist will also perform otoscopy (physical examination of the outer ear, ear canal, and eardrum) and may perform tympanometry and acoustic reflex testing (test of the middle ear and nerve from ear to brain) to determine the health of the ear canal, middle ear, and auditory nerve.
If you are being seen for a tinnitus evaluation, we may also perform tinnitus matching testing. This is where we measure the type, pitch, loudness, and masking levels of your tinnitus to better discuss treatment options.
What can I expect during a diagnostic hearing evaluation?
The testing itself lasts about 30 minutes. Depending on the nature of your appointment, we may block up to 90 minutes to perform case history, get a better understanding of your listening needs, and to discuss treatment options as appropriate.
If your appointment is to determine hearing loss levels and treatment options, it is recommended that you bring a family member with you to the appointment. Hearing loss is a family issue. It helps to have another supportive person at the appointment to help you understand the information and recommendations. In some cases we will perform a technology demonstration, and it is helpful to have a familiar voice to test during the demonstration.
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. They will pay special attention to any concerns you have about exposure to noise, tinnitus and balance problems. We will also send online forms for your to complete prior to your appointment.
You are in great hands with a ClearLife audiologist. Our professionals are among the most highly trained in the field, and we make sure to allow plenty of time to answer all of your questions and ensure you understand all recommendations and treatment options.