A 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 hearing evaluation will be performed by a Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist or Audioprostologist, usually in his or her office, using equipment called an audiometer.
First, the professional will perform otoscopy. (examining the ear canal) Then the hearing evaluation includes pure-tone testing, bone-conduction testing, speech testing, and speech-in-noise testing.
The 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. These various tests will determine the degree of hearing loss, the type of hearing loss, and the conditions of the ear canal and middle ear. The professional will also determine if the hearing loss is conductive (middle or outer ear problem) or sensorineural (inner ear problem or central processing difficulty of the brain).
A hearing evaluation may include the following tests:
- Air conduction testing
- Bone conduction testing
- Speech testing
Why a Hearing Evaluation is Important
Hearing evaluations identify hearing loss, and give your professional 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 hearing evaluation helps your professional know which hearing aids will be most appropriate for your needs.
What Can I Expect During a Hearing Evaluation?
The evaluation will probably last about 60 to 90 minutes in length which allows time for discussion with the professional to review test results, and ask questions.
It is recommended that you bring a family member with you to the evaluation appointment. Most professionals 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 hearing history will be completed and the professional will want to hear about any complaints you have about your hearing. He or she will pay special attention to any concerns you have about exposure to noise and chemotherapy drugs.
The hearing evaluation is a good chance to establish a relationship with your professional. You want to be certain that you are comfortable with your provider, and 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.