Posted on: 25 April 2018Share
If you don't hear as well as you used to, you may want to visit an audiologist to have your ears examined. This is the first step involved in getting a hearing aid if you need one. An audiologist runs tests on you and creates a report that shows the degree and type of hearing loss you have. This helps you understand what's going on with your hearing so you know what must be done to correct the problem. Here's a look at some of the testing that's done and what it can detect.
A Physical Exam
The physical exam involves taking a history of your hearing problem as well as looking at the medications you take since some medications might lead to hearing loss. Your ears will also be examined with a scope for problems like ear wax, foreign objects, or even growths that might be blocking your ears. If a physical abnormality is found, you might be referred to an ENT doctor for further diagnoses and treatment.
A Pressure Test
A pressure test, or tympanometry, checks the function of your eardrum and middle ear. The test is not painful or uncomfortable. A device is placed in your ear that causes changes in air pressure and the movement of your eardrum is measured as the pressure changes. This shows if your eardrum is working properly and rules out problems such as a perforated eardrum or a buildup of fluid or other problem in the middle ear.
Tone testing determines the degree of your hearing loss. You'll listen to a series of tones delivered to one ear at a time. You'll respond when you hear a tone. This lets the audiologist know what tones you hear and what ones you don't. The test shows the lowest limit of your hearing ability across a number of different sound frequencies. This creates a graph that is compared with normal hearing to let you know how you compare and the degree of your hearing loss. This information can be used to help the audiologist select the best hearing aid if you need one.
Speech testing is important because it shows how well you can distinguish sounds. You might hear normal speech fine but not be able to tell what people are saying because you have trouble distinguishing words. This test is given with words spoken in a variety of background settings so the audiologist can determine if you have trouble in your home watching TV or if the main problem is when you're in a restaurant or public place. This information helps the audiologist choose the right features for your hearing aid, such as a directional microphone or noise canceling so you can distinguish words better.
Hearing tests are important in determining the best hearing aid when you have hearing loss, but they are also important in the diagnosis of medical problems in your ears. Seeing an audiologist when you notice problems with your hearing is the first step in protecting your hearing and making sure you're able to stay safe and socially engaged when you don't hear as well as you used to.