Diagnostic Hearing Evaluations
Comprehensive evaluations obtain basic hearing threshold levels as well as speech recognition, immitance, and site of lesion information. A complete hearing evaluation is the first step when considering hearing aids.
Once hearing loss is noticed, patients come into the clinic, and the process of determining what is wrong begins. A case history is obtained. The exam then consists of otoscopy—looking in the ears and tympanometry—measuring to see how the eardrum is moving and to make sure the bones in the middle ear are functioning properly.
Patients are then led into the sound booth where they are tested to determine the quietest level of speech they can understand, the lowest tone they can hear and how well they understand speech when it is made loud enough. Bone conduction testing is then performed to determine what type of hearing loss is present. Results are discussed with the patient and recommendations are made.
If hearing aids are recommended, most patients may be fit within a few days. The clinic requires two-week and four-week checkups and patients are encouraged to come in a often as necessary.
It is important to get the problem fixed right away because nerve fibers that function for speech understanding can deteriorate over time if they are not being stimulated.
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.
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 qualify 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 audiologist 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. It helps to ask around for recommendations to audiologist in your area and find someone who listens carefully to your concerns. Above all, 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.