As a full-service audiology practice, we are able to provide several testing options in order to diagnose and treat your hearing health. We continually strive to keep up to date on the most current methods and technologies that are used in the field of audiology. Below is a brief explanation of some the more common tests we perform.
This is what is generally thought of a "hearing test." The patient sits in a soundproof booth and is asked to wear a set of earphones. The earphones are connected to an audiometer, which presents a series of tones in a variety of volumes, and the patient is asked to indicate when they hear a sound by raising their hand. This test determines whether any hearing impairment is present, and if so, to what degree.
If testing reveals a hearing loss, another type of headset, a bone vibrator, is used to determine hearing by bone conduction in order to determine the type of hearing loss. This device sends sounds directly to the inner ear, bypassing the outer and middle ear. If the sounds are heard better by bone conduction, the hearing loss is conductive in nature and is likely located in the outer or middle ear. If the sounds are heard equally well with the earphones and the bone vibrator, the hearing loss is sensorineural in nature. A combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss also may be present; this is called a mixed hearing loss.
In addition to tests with tones, word recognition testing is usually performed to evaluate the ability to hear and understand words. During this test, you will be asked to listen to and repeat words.
Visual inspection of the ear canal is completed to check for obstructions, wax blockages, or signs of outer or middle ear infections in the ear. Video Otoscopy is different from standard otoscopy because it projects an image of the ear canal on to a large screen and allows you to look into your own ear with the audiologist.
Visual Reinforcement Audiometry
Since it can be difficult to get very young children to indicate when they hear a sound, visual reinforcement is used to measure their ability to hear. The child sits on a parent's or caretaker's lap in the sound booth. Every time a sound is presented, it is coupled with a visual cue. When the child instinctively turns their head to find the source of the sound, we know that they have heard it. On the other hand, if they do not seek out the source of the sound, it indicates that they did not hear it. Just like Standard Audiometry, this test is used to diagnose whether or not a hearing impairment is present.
Conditioned Play Audiometry
This is another form of testing used to diagnose potential hearing loss in children. The child is conditioned to perform a play activity (such as stacking blocks) whenever he or she hears a sound.
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE)
OAE testing helps the audiologist determine if the inner ear is functioning properly. When sound stimulates the cochlea, the outer hair cells vibrate. This vibration produces a nearly inaudible sound that echoes back into the middle ear. The sound is measured with a small probe inserted into the ear canal. Individuals with no worse than a mild hearing loss can produce emissions. Those with hearing loss greater than 25–35 decibels (dB) do not produce these very soft sounds.
Tympanometry uses air pressure to measure the flexibility of the eardrum and is helpful in diagnosing possible causes for hearing loss. It can be used to detect fluid in the middle ear, a perforation of the eardrum, wax blocking the ear canal, or in the identification of any middle ear abnormalities.
Auditory Processing Evaluations
Auditory processing is the brain's ability to hear auditory messages, distinguish between similar sounds or words, separate relevant speech from background noise and the ability to recall and comprehend what was heard. Auditory processing evaluations use a series of tests to stress the auditory system. Due to the complex nature of the evaluation, patients who can be successfully evaluated must meet the following criteria:
* seven years of age without significant cognitive or developmental delays
* sufficient receptive and expressive language skills to follow the directions and respond to the tasks
* speech that is intelligible to an unfamiliar listener
* Normal to near normal hearing