A hearing evaluation is quick, simple and painless. In most cases, the results are instantaneous—you will learn immediately if you have a hearing loss and what steps you should take to improve your hearing. There are different testing methods, but most start with brief questions about the health of your ear, your general health and your lifestyle. These questions assist in determining the cause and nature of your possible hearing loss.
Remember that you are in the hands of a doctor of audiology who has been extensively trained in the advance diagnostic audiological testing and wants to help you improve your quality of life. Do not hesitate to bring up your concerns or ask any questions.
First, your audiologist will look into your ears with an otoscope. The purpose of looking into yours ears is to examine the ear canal—the tunnel that leads from the outer ear to the eardrum. Inspection of the ear can provide a lot of information about your eardrum and the middle ear. Looking into the ear does not hurt, and you will even get to see a picture of your ear drum.
A hearing test evaluates your hearing sensitivity and is performed by using an audiometer, which determines sensitivity at different frequencies.
- You will sit inside a sound-proof room with a set of foam earphones placed in your ear canals.
- Your earphones are connected to the audiometer. The audiometer is calibrated to measure your hearing with precision.
- The audiometer sends tones at various frequencies to one ear at a time, while the doctor of audiology plots the loudness (in decibels) on an audiogram.
- While you are being exposed to the different tones, you’ll signal to the doctor of audiology by pressing a button (or raising your hand) when you hear the tone, no matter how quiet it is. The doctor of audiology is looking for the softest levels at which you can hear the tones important for understanding speech. You may hear the same tone many times. Don’ worry: this is part of the test and ensures accurate results.
- Over the course of the test, the doctor of audiology plots points on a graph that will explain your hearing in comparison to the normal range.
- The test will produce results in the form of a graph that shows your hearing loss in pitch and loudness. The result is referred to as your “threshold.” Normal hearing for adults is defined as the ability to hear sounds that are 25 decibels or quieter.
- Your evaluation will include speech audiometry. Your doctor of audiology will read lists of words to you through the earphones, and you will do your best to try and repeat the words. This will allow the Doctor of Audiology to understand how you are hearing in real-world situations.
- Noise is the most difficult situation for communication and many people struggle to hear in noisy environments so we will evaluation how you understand sentences with additional background noise.
- Your Doctor of Audiology will discuss the results of your hearing evaluation in full detail with you and discuss recommendations for your unique situation.
- If hearing technology is recommended by your audiologist, you will test different types of hearing devices.
Companionship is best!
- Less Stress. Even though a hearing evaluation is painless, it is still nerve-wracking! A trusted friend will help ease any stress that you may be experiencing.
- A second set of eyes. Sometimes, the person experiencing hearing loss doesn’t notice all the difficulties the hearing loss is creating. He or she may have noticed that they ask people to repeat themselves, but they don’t recognize how their hearing loss is straining their communication with others. It is good to have a second set of eyes (or ears!) that have experience communicating with the person facing hearing loss to discuss concerns.
- Two ears are better than one. The more people who listen to the results and recommendations, the better. After your hearing test, your Doctor of Audiology will discuss all the results, and the more people you have listening to the recommendations and asking questions, the better you will understand the results and recommendations.
- Familiar Voice. The companion will take part in the hearing evaluation. This will allow us to determine if assistive technology will benefit the individual experiencing hearing loss.
- Making decisions is tough. Medical decisions are not easy and it helps to talk with an informed companion. Why not bring them along! Hearing aids are an investment in a better quality of life and a loved one can help determine what is best for you.