Comprehensive Hearing Test

An auditory processing evaluation evaluates how the central nervous system processes auditory information. Testing can be performed on adults and children 7 years of age and older.

hearing testWe will perform a comprehensive hearing test to establish the health of your hearing system and measure your hearing sensitivity.  Your medical history will be discussed and you may be asked questions related to noise exposure, medications you’re taking, past surgeries, and possible diseases.

Tests we perform include:
  • Pure Tone Audiometry
  • Bone Conduction Audiometry
  • Speech Discrimination Testing
  • Tympanometry
  • Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing

The results of your hearing test will determine how severe it is (mild, moderate, severe, or profound) and where your hearing loss originates (outer ear, middle ear, or inner ear).

Pure tone audiometry measures the quietest tones you can hear at various pitches, typically from 250 through 8000 Hz.  The method of testing is based on age:

Visual reinforcement audiometry (ages 6 to 36 months) is performed with the child in the sound booth, usually seated on a parent’s lap.  Two speakers on either side of the child are used to present a sound of a specific pitch.  The child is taught that a head turn towards the speaker creating the sound will cause a toy to become animated. The sound is made quieter and quieter until no response is obtained, giving us hearing thresholds for each of the pitches tested.

Conditioned play audiometry (ages 30 months to 4 or 5 years) is performed with the child in the sound booth.  The child is taught to perform an act that is a part of a game (such as placing a block in a bucket or matching colors or shapes) in response to sounds of varying pitches that are heard. The sound is made quieter and quieter until the child does not respond, giving us hearing thresholds for each of the pitches tested.

Conventional audiometry (ages 4 or 5 years to adult) is performed in the sound booth.  The patient will respond by pushing a button or raising a hand when a sound is heard. The sound is made quieter and quieter until no response is provided.  This test is repeated for varying pitches, giving us hearing thresholds for each of the pitches tested.

Bone conduction audiometry sends tones (or speech) through a device placed behind your ear.  This test assesses your inner ear’s hearing ability by allowing sounds to bypass your ear canal, ear drum, and middle ear, stimulating the inner ear directly.  This test, in conjunction with pure tone audiometry, allows us to determine the type of hearing loss (sensorineural, conductive, or mixed).

Speech discrimination testing measures how well you can understand speech when it’s loud enough to comfortably hear.  The audiologist will read or play a list of words through headphones and you will repeat back what you hear.  Your speech discrimination score is measured in percent correct for a given presentation volume.  

Tympanometry evaluates the functioning of the middle ear, including the eardrum (tympanic membrane) and the 3 tiny bones within the middle ear (ossicles), and to evaluate presence of fluid or pressure behind the eardrum.  A device is placed in your ear and a small amount of pressure is applied through the ear canal onto the eardrum.

Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) testing measures the function of tiny hair cells within the inner ear (specifically the cochlea).  An emission is a sound produced within the cochlea when it is stimulated, which causes the outer hair cells to vibrate.  This vibration creates a very soft sound that is measured by small probes that are inserted into the ear canal, which also stimulate the inner ear with specific sounds.  This test allows us to determine if the cochlea is involved in a hearing loss.  It can also provide information related to hearing in children too young to provide reliable audiometric testing (typically those less than 6 months of age).