If you are concerned you have a hearing loss, your first step is a hearing test. Audiometry or a hearing test is a painless, thorough evaluation of your ears and hearing. For this testing to be accurate it is important to use a trained and licensed hearing health care professional. Hearing instrument specialists are trained to perform basic hearing testing to determine if a hearing loss is present. Comprehensive hearing evaluations used to diagnose the cause of hearing loss must be performed by an audiologist. Audiologists have a master’s or doctoral degree in audiology and are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing and balance disorders.
Hearing health care professionals work in hospitals, clinics, or private practice offices. Specialized equipment called an audiometer is necessary for hearing testing as is a sound resistant enclosure or sound booth.
A hearing evaluation begins with otoscopy. Your hearing care provider will use an otoscope, a special light for ear exams, to evaluate your ear canal and ear drum. This ensures that ear wax, ear infections or ear drum problems aren’t the cause of your hearing loss. If your ear canals are clear and your ear drums are healthy, a hearing test is next. A hearing test is performed using specialized equipment called an audiometer and earphones. With the earphones in place, you will be asked to respond when you hear a series of quiet tones. These tones range from low frequency or bass sounds like a tuba to high pitched treble tones like a bird chirping. This pure tone testing is used to establish how much and what type hearing loss you may have. Next you will be asked to repeat back words or sentences to determine how well your ear conducts speech sounds to your brain.
An audiogram measures hearing by pitch, or frequency, and by loudness. Responses from the right ear are marked in red, blue for the left ear. Hearing loss is represented as a graph, showing hearing thresholds at each frequency. An audiogram shows the amount and type of hearing loss for each ear.
A thorough hearing evaluation includes patient history, a review of medications, a visual inspection of your ears, a hearing test, and discussion of your test results. This can take between 30 minutes to over an hour depending on the type and number of tests your provider determines you may need. A complete hearing evaluation is critical to determining the cause, amount, and type of hearing loss you may have. The visit may not be fast, but it will be worthwhile.
It's time to finally treat your hearing loss. Sign up for a free consultation with a licensed hearing care professional today to determine if you have hearing loss. It’s the start of your journey towards better hearing.