What is an audiological evaluation?
An audiological evaluation is a series of tests doctors use to help determine the type, degree and configuration of your hearing loss. The tests often provide insights on what has caused your hearing loss. Your doctor can use the information to develop a treatment plan that will be most effective for you.
An audiological evaluation may be performed by an otolaryngologist (ENT doctor) or audiologist.
Why is an audiological evaluation necessary?
Your doctor may order an audiological evaluation when your hearing loss needs to be further examined. In many cases, patients who did not pass an initial hearing screening may require an audiological evaluation.
What tests may be performed during an audiological evaluation?
Your doctor will determine which tests you need. He or she will examine your age, your current hearing status and any other medical conditions.
Tests performed during an audiological evaluation may include:
Pure-tone air and bone conduction testing
Pure-tone air and bone conduction testing evaluates the lowest tones you can hear at different frequencies — high and low.
Bone-conduction testing is similar to pure-tone air conduction testing. During bone-conduction testing, your doctor will use a different type of headphone. Your doctor will be able to discern if your hearing loss has originated from the inner ear or from the middle/outer ear.
There are a variety of speech tests, including:
- Speech reception threshold testing may be used to confirm results from the pure-tone test. During this test, your doctor will try to discern the lowest level where patients can understand words or speech patterns.
- Word recognition tests may be used to determine if you can recognize speech.
- Speech-in noise testing will evaluate your ability to understand speech in noisy environments.
A doctor examines the outer ear canal with an instrument called an otoscope.
Tympanometry examines the middle ear and tympanic membrane (eardrum).
Results of an audiological evaluation
Your doctor will interpret and review the results of your tests in a clinic visit. Depending on what is causing your hearing loss, the doctor will perform additional testing, develop a treatment plan or refer you to a specialist for more advanced treatment.