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The following provides a general idea of what to expect during a hearing evaluation.
HEALTH AND HEARING HISTORY
Your hearing care professional will collect information about your hearing and medical history.
Your hearing care professional will examine your ears for inflammation, earwax, infection or any abnormalities.
The next step of the hearing evaluation may be to complete immittance testing using special equipment to evaluate the integrity of the eardrum, middle ear space and acoustic reflexes.
The hearing test may be conducted in a sound treated room or booth. You will either wear headphones covering your ears or foam earphones placed in your ear canals. Your hearing care professional will use an instrument to measure the acuity of your hearing, called an audiometer, by presenting tones with different pitch and loudness characteristics. You will be instructed to indicate when you hear these tones by pressing a button or raising your hand. Your responses will be plotted by the hearing care professional onto an audiogram, which is a graph of your hearing. In addition to tones, your hearing might also be evaluated using speech. You may be asked to repeat words presented to you through the headphones or earphones.
HEARING EVALUATION RESULTS
After completing the hearing evaluation, the hearing care professional will explain your results using the audiogram.
WHAT IS AN AUDIOGRAM?
The two primary components graphed on an audiogram are frequency and intensity. Frequency, or pitch, is measured in Hertz (Hz). Low frequencies are represented on the left side of an audiogram and high frequencies are represented on the right side. Intensity, or loudness, is measured in decibels (dB). The intensity relates to how loud or soft a sound is. Each horizontal line on the audiogram represents a different intensity level. Results will be displayed for each ear. Right ear results are indicated in red and left ear results are indicated in blue.
HOW IS HEARING LOSS DETERMINED?
Hearing loss is classified in degrees of hearing, ranging from normal to profound and determined by hearing threshold. Threshold categories for types of hearing loss are as follows:
NORMAL: 0-25 dB HL
MILD: 26-40 dB HL
MODERATE: 41-55 dB HL
MODERATELY SEVERE: 56-70 dB HL
SEVERE: 71-90 dB HL
PROFOUND: 90+ dB HL
Audiogram illustrating speech and environmental sounds
WHAT IF THE HEARING TEST INDICATES HEARING LOSS?
If your test shows a hearing loss, you will be advised on the types and benefits of hearing assistance options to fit your need and lifestyle.
Till next time,
Kostas (Gus) Neoclis, Sc.D., CCC-A, Audiologist