Hearing tests are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The evaluation an audiologist selects is dependent on a multitude of factors, including your age.
Testing for Children
Otoacoustic Emissions Testing (OAE)
- Purpose: A measure of the inner ear function to tell doctors whether the hair cells in the ear are functioning within normal limits.
- Method: A small probe is placed in the baby’s ear and clicks or tones are played and sent from the probe speaker to the ear canal, through the middle ear, and ultimately into the cochlea. Outer hair cells in the cochlea become excited and react by generating and emitting an acoustic response. The emitted response then travels in a reverse direction from the cochlea back to the ear canal, where it is detected by the probe microphone.
Impedance Testing or Immittance Testing
- Purpose: To determine the functioning of the middle ear.
- Method: Eardrum mobility is measured under varying pressure conditions to determine if any problems exist in the middle ear.
- Requirements: This test takes only 3 to 30 seconds per ear.
Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)
- Purpose: Rather than measuring what a baby can hear, it determines the sounds to which the brain actively responds.
- Method: Three tiny electrodes are placed on the baby’s head, and then clicks or tones are played into small headphones placed over the baby’s ears.
- Requirements: This test takes only a few minutes and can be done while the baby is sleeping.
- Purpose: Tests a child’s ability to hear sounds.
- Method: A child in a sound-treated room is presented with a variety of sounds from high to low pitches, and from soft to loud intensity. An audiologist has the child respond to the different sounds and document it.
Adult Hearing Tests
Pure- Tone Testing
- Purpose: Determines the faintest tones a person can hear at selected pitches (frequencies), from low to high.
- Method: The person taking the test is asked to respond to the sounds in a variety of different ways such as raising their hand, pressing a button, or saying “yes”. These results are recorded in an audiogram.
Speech Reception Threshold (SRT)
- Purpose: To record the faintest speech that can be heard half the time and word recognition or the ability to correctly repeat back words at a comfortable loudness level. This helps confirm the pure-tone test results.
- Method: Compound words are presented and then must be repeated back.
Speech Awareness Threshold (SAT)
- Purpose: Determine the softest level one can detect the presence of words. Used when an individual’s hearing loss is so significant that they can not recognize or repeat words but are aware that words have been presented.
- Method: Compound words are presented and the individual must indicate when they hear them.
Word Recognition Score (WRS)
- Purpose: Results can indicate how well an individual can hear in quiet at an everyday conversational level or if an individual has a relatively significant hearing loss at his or her most comfortable listening level; and how well they can hear in the presence of background noise.
- Method: 25-50 single syllable words are typically presented in each ear at one or more listening levels (everyday conversational level and comfortable listening level) and the percentage of words correctly repeated is calculated.
Loudness Discomfort Level (LDL)
- Purpose: Results are used to set an individual’s hearing aid’s maximum loudness levels to prevent loud sounds from being amplified by the hearing aids to a degree that they are intolerable.
- Method: Tests the loudest level one can tolerate various sounds without the sound being uncomfortably loud.
There are also specific test that target the outer and middle ear. These include:
- Purpose: Used to determine if (and to what extent) ear wax or other foreign material is blocking the ear canal and if there is a possibility of some form of outer/middle ear pathology.
- Method: An instrument with a magnifying lens and light is used to examine the external canal and eardrum.
- Purpose: Results indicate how well the eardrum moves relative to normal values and therefore the condition of the middle ear.
- Method: A device with a rubber tip is placed into a person’s ear canal, which creates a gradual change in the ear’s air pressure.
An audiologist has an array of tests he may administer to get an overall picture of the health of your ear. By utilizing these tests to assess the outer, middle and inner ear, he will be well-equipped to determine the best course of action.
Palm Beach Sleep and Sinus, under the direction of Mark T. Agrama, MD, is dedicated to the medical and surgical treatment of adult sleep, sinus and nose disorders. State of the art diagnostic protocols such as Home Sleep Studies, Laboratory Sleep Studies, Nasal Endoscopy, Video Flexible Laryngoscopy, Video Stroboscopy, Sleep Endoscopy, and CT Scan Imaging help us analyze our patient’s condition.
Our mission is the optimization of Sleep and Sinus health for our patients using a comprehensive and individualized plan designed for long-term success. To discuss your ENT issues, please contact us or call 561-624-5311.