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Diagnostic Hearing Tests

A diagnostic hearing evaluation is the first step in determining your hearing capability.  If you have a hearing loss, it will detail the extent, type, and specifics of your particular hearing loss.

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.

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.

A diagnostic hearing evaluation may include the following tests:

  • Otoscopy- Otoscopy is the visualization of the ear canal and ear drum using a lighted magnification instrument called an otoscope.  In some cases we may use a video otoscope so you are able to view the structures of your ear canal and eardrum.  Otoscopy is important in identifying any obstruction in the ear canals, possible infections, perforations in the eardrum, or scarring of the ear drum.
  • Puretone air and bone conduction testing -Puretone testing is the hallmark of the diagnostic audiological evaluation.  Your hearing will be tested at different frequencies in order to find the softest levels of sounds you can hear.  These test results are compared to the normal parameters of hearing and begin to paint a picture for our audiologists on your type and degree of hearing loss.
  • Speech testing – Our audiologists will want to gather information on how well you can detect and understand speech.  You may be asked to repeat speech when there is background noise, or report when speech is uncomfortable and most comfortable to you.
  • Distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAE) testing- This testing is an objective measurement of your inner ear and the delicate hair cells that relay electrical activity to the hearing nerve.  It takes only a minute or two and further determines what type of hearing loss you have.
  • Tympanometry and acoustic reflex testing – These tests provide objective information regarding the movement and health of your ear drum, middle ear bones, and your eustachian tube.

Why a Diagnostic Hearing Evaluation is Important

Diagnostic hearing evaluations identify hearing loss, and give our audiologists 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 our audiologists 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 our audiologists 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 audiologists 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 our audiologists 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.

We allow ample time to review the procedures and treatment options. 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.