In order to determine your exact type and degree of hearing loss, your Cedar Park hearing specialist will need to complete more than a single test. They will then review the results of each and put together an individualized treatment plan.
Types of Hearing Tests
A comprehensive audiology evaluation consists of a series of individual diagnostic tests that measure different aspects of your hearing. There are seven main categories of tests.
Pure Tone Testing
Pure-tone testing (also known as pure tone audiometry) uses air conduction to measure your ability to hear sounds of various pitches and volumes. Wearing headphones, you will be asked to identify a series of tones by raising a hand, pressing a button or responding verbally.
The results are charted on an audiogram, a visual representation of your hearing loss, by comparing pitch (frequency) with loudness (intensity). The pattern recorded will help your Cedar Park hearing specialist determine your hearing threshold.
Bone Conduction Testing
Bone conduction testing is another type of pure-tone test that measures the inner ear’s response to sound. If there is damage or a blockage in the outer or middle ear, bone conduction audiometry testing may be used.
Instead of sending the tones through the ear, this type of testing bypasses the outer and middle ear and sends the tone directly to the inner ear. A small device is placed behind the ear; it sends out a vibration that passes through the skull bone to reach the inner ear.
If the results of this test are different than the air conduction test, your Cedar Park hearing specialist can use this information to determine whether you have a conductive or sensorineural hearing loss.
Speech (or word recognition) testing is used to measure your speech reception threshold (SRT), or the faintest speech you can understand 50 percent of the time. This is compared with your pure-tone test results to confirm the diagnosis. Your ability to separate speech from background noise will also be recorded.
Speech testing may be administered in either a quiet or noisy environment; results are recorded on the audiogram for easy visual reference.
Tympanometry is a test of the middle ear used to detect fluid, wax buildup, eardrum perforations and tumors. It measures movement of the eardrum in response to air pressure; the results are recorded on a chart called a tympanogram.
Acoustic Reflex Testing
The acoustic reflex test measures involuntary muscle contractions of the middle ear, and is used to determine the location of your hearing problem (the ossicles, cochlea, auditory nerve, etc.) as well as the type of hearing loss.
Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)
Auditory brainstem response testing is used to determine whether a specific type of hearing loss – sensorineural – exists. It is also commonly used to screen newborns for hearing problems.
In an ABR test, electrodes are attached to your head, scalp or earlobes; you are also given headphones to wear. Your brainwave activity is measured in response to sounds of varying intensities.
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs)
Otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) are sounds generated by vibrations of the hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear. OAE testing utilizes a tiny probe fitted with a microphone and speaker that is used to stimulate the cochlea and measure its response. Individuals with normal hearing will produce emissions; when a hearing loss exceeds 25-30 decibels, no sound will be produced.
This test helps determine whether there is a blockage in the ear canal, excess fluid in the middle ear or damage to the hair cells of the cochlea. OAE testing is often included in newborn hearing screening programs.
As you can see, a number of tests go into determining what kind of hearing loss you have and how bad it is. This information is used by your Cedar Park hearing specialist to recommend a treatment plan.
To learn more about hearing tests, contact your Cedar Park hearing specialist today.