Hearing evaluations consist of a series of tests used to determine whether a hearing loss exists and, if so, measure its type, degree and configuration. Your audiologist will assess the results of each individual test in order to develop a treatment plan geared toward your unique hearing loss.
Who Should Be Given a Hearing Evaluation?
A hearing evaluation can benefit patients of all ages, even those who do not exhibit signs of hearing loss.
Hearing loss is a progressive condition that often develops slowly. Many people are not aware of a change in their hearing because they gradually adapt to the subtle changes in their hearing ability over time.
A hearing evaluation should be the first course of action for anyone who suspects a hearing loss. The sooner a diagnosis of hearing loss is made, the more successful treatment will be. Early detection of hearing loss means more options for the patient.
Many physicians urge making hearing evaluations a routine part of your overall health care, much like regular vision exams and dental checkups. They are quick, painless and provide immediate results.
A comprehensive audiology evaluation consists of a series of individual diagnostic tests that measure different aspects of your hearing and balance. Following a physical examination and a review of your medical history, you will be given any or all of the following tests:
Types of Diagnostic Tests
- Acoustic Immittance Measures. These tests evaluate the movement of the eardrum and middle ear and are used to determine which part of the ear is affected by hearing loss.
- Audiometric evaluation. This hearing exam measures your ability to hear different sounds, pitches and frequencies. The results are charted on an audiogram, a graph that shows the type, degree and configuration of your hearing loss by comparing pitch (frequency) with loudness (intensity). The pattern recorded will help your audiologist determine your hearing threshold. It can determine the nature and extent of your hearing loss and whether you will benefit from hearing aids or surgical intervention.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR). This neurologic test provides information about the electrical activity in the auditory pathway between the inner ear and the brain and measures a person’s hearing sensitivity. Your brainwave activity is measured in response to sounds of varying intensities. ABR testing is also frequently used to screen and test newborns for hearing loss.
- Electrocochleography. This test is used to determine whether there is excess fluid in the inner ear by measuring the electrical currents generated by sound stimulation. This testing can help with the diagnosis of Meniere’s disease and other balance and hearing disorders.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE). This test measures the response of hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear when stimulated. OAE testing is often included in testing newborns and young children for hearing loss.
- Posturography. This balance test measures the effectiveness of the somatosensory, vestibular, and vision systems to determine which area(s) to focus on when treating a balance disorder. With this test, you stand on a platform and follow a visual target while platform movements record the degree to which your body sways.
- Rotary Chair. This test is done in combination with VNG testing and measures eye movements in response to corresponding head movements; it is used to determine whether symptoms are related to an inner ear disorder or a brain disorder.
- Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potential (VEMP). VEMP testing is used to determine whether the saccule (an inner ear organ) and vestibular nerves are functioning properly. Electrodes are adhered to the neck and sounds are transmitted through a pair of headphones. The electrical response of the sternocleidomastoid muscle in the neck is recorded.
- Videonystagmography (VNG). This test measures eye movements to evaluate the inner ear and central motor functions. It can determine whether a vestibular disorder is the cause of a balance problem, and whether one or both ears are affected.
These diagnostic tests are quick, painless, and can help us diagnose and evaluate a variety of hearing and balance disorders.
Call Great Lakes ENT Specialists at (231) 489-8151 for more information or to schedule an appointment.