If you have been referred for a diagnostic audiologic evaluation, it means that your hearing needs to be further examined. A 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 into the cause of the hearing loss as well as provide guidance for the audiologist in making appropriate treatment recommendations- or referrals to other professionals.
What tests will be done?
The specific tests done during the evaluation will depend on the patient’s age, symptoms and medical history. These various tests will determine the degree of hearing loss, the type of hearing loss and the conditions of the ear canal and middle ear. 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).
A diagnostic audiologic evaluation includes otoscopy, pure-tone testing, bone conduction testing and speech testing.
Otoscopy and video otoscopy
Otoscopy is a physical examination of the outer ear and, ear canal and eardrum.
Video otoscopy is an examination of your ear with a tiny fiber-optic camera, which displays in high-definition on a monitor, enabling your hearing professional to carry out a detailed inspection of the ear canal and eardrum. Physical abnormalities such as ear wax, infection or foreign bodies (e.g. cotton buds) are easily identifiable as a possible contributing factor to your symptoms of hearing loss.
Pure-tone and bone conduction testing
In all of our offices hearing test is conducted in a calibrated sound-proof booth, which is the only reliable way of audiometric testing. We use state-of-the-art testing equipment, which is professionally calibrated and certified annually.
Pure-tone 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, however, a different type of headset is used to provide the audiologist with different information. A bone conduction test will help the audiologist determine whether the loss is conductive in nature or sensorineural.
1. The speech reception threshold (SRT) test is used to confirm the results of a pure-tone test. This test determines the lowest level of sound the patient can clearly identify words or speech.
2. The word recognition (discrimination) score is a very important measurement of your speech comprehension abilities. You will be presented a list of words at the most comfortable loudness level. It’s important to understand that the parts of your brain that process speech and hearing are separate. This means that fitting you with hearing aids will not necessarily improve your speech understanding if it falls below a certain level. The longer you go without hearing aids, the more difficult to comprehend speech.
What can I expect during a diagnostic hearing evaluation?
The evaluation will last about 30-40 minutes in length. You should also allow time for discussion with the audiologist to review test results and ask questions.
If the results indicate you need hearing aids, allow for sufficient time to discuss your options.
It’s vital that you bring a family member or a friend with you to the evaluation appointment. You will be able to listen to the familiar voice during our demonstration and your family member or friend may also have some questions, concerns or suggestions. Hearing loss is always a family issue.
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. Make sure that you take a full list of any medications and supplements you are taking with you to your appointment.
The diagnostic audiologic evaluation is a good chance to establish a relationship with your hearing professional. 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.