What to Expect at a Hearing Test
The hearing test is how we determine the type and severity of a person’s hearing loss. If you’ve scheduled an appointment at Evergreen Audiology, congratulations! You’re about to take the first step toward greatly improving your quality of life. Our friendly crew will help you through all the necessary steps in our comfortable, homey office environment.
Consultation and Physical Exam
When you arrive for your hearing evaluation, you’ll start with answering some questions about your and your family’s medical history. Dr. Lawson will need to know what medications you’re on, and whether you’ve recently been ill or exposed to high noise levels.
He will also want to know about your occupation and what your daily life is like. Since your treatment will be tailored to your specific needs, the more information you can provide about yourself, the better.
The doctor will also examine your ears with an otoscope, which allows him to see your ear canal and eardrum. You may be familiar with this type of device from your general practitioner’s office. This step is important for determining if there are any physical blockages in your outer ear or damage to your eardrum that may be increasing the degree of hearing loss you’re experiencing.
The Hearing Test
Depending on what the doctor determines from your consultation and each subsequent step of the hearing exam itself, he may administer up to three different hearing tests. Each of them is completely painless and non-invasive, so rest easy!
Diagnostic Auditory Evaluation
This portion of the hearing test requires you to sit in a soundproof booth and wear a pair of headphones. The doctor will first perform “pure tone audiometry,” where he will send a series of tones of varied pitch and loudness through the headphones and ask you questions about what you’re hearing. He will also perform “speech audiometry:” a similar process but with human speech instead of tones.
Tympanometry allows the doctor to see the state of your eardrum and parts of your middle ear, the hollow cavity where sound transferred by the eardrum is prepared to be transferred again to the liquid inside the cochlea. The parts assessed include the ossicles (three tiny bones) and the auditory tubes (formerly called Eustachian tubes). The doctor will use a tympanometer for this test, which alters the pressure inside your ear for a few seconds while he takes measurements. This test may be slightly uncomfortable, but is painless.
Acoustic Reflex Thresholds
The stapedius muscle is the smallest muscle in the human body, and connects to the stapes, the third of the three ossicles in the middle ear. The stapedius muscle protects your ear from loud sounds by contracting and thus pulling the stapes into position to reduce the amount of sound that is allowed to enter the cochlea.
This test requires that an air-tight seal be created in your ear before a series of beeps is played. The beeps will get progressively louder while the doctor measures the contraction of your stapedius muscle. The test is painless and will only take a few seconds per ear.
The results of your tests will be displayed as an audiogram, a chart that allows for the visualization of your hearing ability. It will be explained to you at the time, but the audiogram will graphically display your receptivity to loudness at different points along the frequency spectrum, as well as brain response. Your speech recognition will be recorded as a percentage.
You’ll go over your audiogram with the doctor and he will explain what’s going on with your ears. Your test results may come back “normal,” meaning you have no hearing loss, or show that you have some degree of hearing loss in one or both ears. The doctor will explain the available treatment options for you, and you’ll have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.
The type of treatment that’s best for you might depend on your lifestyle as well as your specific type and degree of hearing loss, so the doctor’s recommendations will be based on both your hearing test results and your consultation prior to the hearing exam. The friendly staff at Evergreen Audiology will help you determine the best next steps to take in treating your hearing loss.