Screening Test

Hearing Health FAQs

 

What Is An Audiologist

Audiologists are licensed, doctorate-level health care professionals who provide patient-centered care in the prevention, identification, diagnosis, and evidence-based treatment of hearing, balance, and other auditory disorders for people of all ages.

Resource:  American Speech Language Hearing Association. (2022). https://www.asha.org/. Retrieved April 17, 2022. 

What Types of Tests and Treatments Do Audiologists Perform?

Types of Tests Audiologists Perform

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): The auditory brainstem response (ABR) test tells us how the inner ear, called the cochlea, and the brain pathways for hearing are working.

 

Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs): The otoacoustic emission test is used to find out how well your inner ear, or cochlea, works. It measures otoacoustic emissions, or OAEs. These are sounds given off by the inner ear when responding to a sound. There are hair cells in the inner ear that respond to sound by vibrating. The vibration produces a very quiet sound that echoes back into the middle ear. This sound is the OAE that is measured. This test is often used in newborn hearing screenings.

Pure-Tone Testing: Pure-tone tests measure the quietest sound you can hear at different pitches, or frequencies. There are several different types of pure-tone testing:

  •     Visual Reinforcement Audiometry

  •     Conditioned Play Audiometry

  •     Air Conduction Testing

  •     Bone Conduction Testing

 

Speech Testing: Speech testing assesses how well you listen to and repeat words.

Tests of the Middle Ear: A problem in the middle ear makes it hard for sounds to go from your outer ear to your inner ear and brain.

 

Tests of the middle ear include:

 

  • Tympanometry: Tympanometry tests how well your eardrum moves in response to slight pressure. 

  • Acoustic Reflex Testing: A tiny muscle in the middle ear tightens when you hear a loud sound. This is an acoustic reflex and it happens without you knowing it. How loud the sound needs to be before this reflex happens can tell a lot about your hearing. If your hearing loss is very bad, you may not even have a reflex.

Types of Treatments Audiologists Perform

  • Hearing aid fittings and consultations

  • Hearing aid repairs and maintenance

  • Aural rehabilitation

  • Auditory processing disorder evaluations and recommendations

  • Pediatric hearing loss detection and treatment

  • Hearing loss prevention and protection programs

  • Earmold and earplug fitting and consultation

  • Custom musician’s earplugs and monitors

  • Tinnitus treatment programs

  • Industrial hearing screening and recommendations

  • Dizziness and balance testing and treatment

  • Hearing rehabilitation and auditory training

  • Cochlear implant candidacy evaluations and implant programming

Resource:  American Speech Language Hearing Association. (2022). https://www.asha.org/. Retrieved April 17, 2022. 

How Do I Know I Have Hearing Loss?

You may have hearing loss if you experience one or more of the following:

  •  If you have difficulty hearing conversations on the telephone

  •  If you have a hard time understanding the conversation when more than one person is talking 

  • If you been exposed to significant noise at work/recreationally 

  • If your friends and/or family tell you that you turn the TV volume up too high

  • You have to listen carefully to understand conversations

  • If you perceive ringing or buzzing in your ears

  • If you have trouble hearing when you are in noisy environments (e.g., restaurants, group settings)

  • If you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves

  • If family members or coworkers say that you often miss what they said

  • If you hear better in one ear than the other when on the phone or laying on either side

  • If many people you talk to seem to mumble (or not speak clearly)

  • If you respond inappropriately after misunderstanding what people say

  • If you get upset because you don’t understand what others say

Resource:  American Speech Language Hearing Association. (2022). https://www.asha.org/. Retrieved April 17, 2022. 

How Is Hearing Loss Diagnosed?

If you exhibit symptoms of hearing loss, you should see an audiologist to have a formal hearing evaluation. This is a diagnostic test from which the audiologist determines the type and degree of your hearing loss. The hearing evaluation includes a thorough case history, a visual inspection of the ears and ear canals, pure-tone testing, middle ear testing, and speech testing.

 

Results of the hearing evaluation are plotted on a graph called an audiogram. 

Resource:  Advanced Hearing Care. (2022). https://advancedhearingcare.org/hearing-health-faqs. Retrieved April 17, 2022.

How Can Hearing Loss Be Prevented?

Loud noise can damage hearing or cause permanent hearing loss. Dangerous noise levels can be found in workplaces; recreational settings like restaurants, stadiums, and clubs; in the classroom; or even on our own personal audio devices.

What is a safe noise level? We record noise levels in decibels, or dBA. The higher the noise level, the louder the noise. You can listen to sounds at 70 dBA or lower for as long as you want. Sounds at 85 dBA can lead to hearing loss if you listen to them for more than 8 hours at a time. For personal listening devices, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a volume of no more than 80 dBA for adults and 75 dBA for children.  

Resource:  American Speech Language Hearing Association. (2022). https://www.asha.org/. Retrieved April 17, 2022. 

What Is An Audiologist

Audiologists are licensed, doctorate-level health care professionals who provide patient-centered care in the prevention, identification, diagnosis, and evidence-based treatment of hearing loss, balance disorders, and other auditory disorders for people of all ages.

Resource:  American Speech Language Hearing Association. (2022). https://www.asha.org/. Retrieved April 17, 2022.

What Types of Tests and Treatments Do Audiologists Perform?

Types of Tests Audiologists Perform

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): The auditory brainstem response (ABR) test tells us how the inner ear, called the cochlea, and the brain pathways for hearing are working. This is accomplished by measuring brainwaves responding to certain sounds.

 

Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs): The otoacoustic emission test is used to find out how well some of the microscopic sensory cells of the inner ear, or cochlea, work. An OAE is a sound given off by the inner ear when responding to a sound that we are hearing. The vibration of these sensory cells produces a very quiet sound that echoes back into the middle ear which can be measured with very sensitive equipment. This test is often used in newborn hearing screenings. 

Pure-Tone Testing: Pure-tone tests are the most common hearing tests and they measure the quietest sound you can hear at different pitches, or frequencies. There are several different types of pure-tone testing:

  •     Visual Reinforcement Audiometry

  •     Conditioned Play Audiometry

  •     Air Conduction Testing

  •     Bone Conduction Testing

 

Speech Testing: Speech testing assesses both the softest levels you can identify words, as well as the clarity of speech at normal or elevated speaking levels. 

Tests of the Middle Ear: A problem in the middle ear makes it hard for sounds to move from the outer ear to the inner ear (cochlea).

 

  • Tympanometry: Tympanometry tests how well your eardrum, the tiny bones in the middle ear, and the air pressure within that space work together to transmit sound through this system. 

  • Acoustic Reflex Testing: A tiny muscle in the middle ear tightens when you hear a loud sound. This is an acoustic reflex and it happens without you knowing it. How loud the sound needs to be before this reflex happens can tell us a lot about your hearing. 

Types of Treatments Audiologists Perform

  • Hearing aid fittings and consultations

  • Hearing aid repairs and maintenance

  • Aural rehabilitation (learning how to use our residual hearing)

  • Auditory processing disorder evaluations and recommendations

  • Pediatric hearing loss detection and treatment

  • Hearing loss prevention and protection programs

  • Earmold and earplug fitting and consultations

  • Custom musician’s earplugs and in-ear-monitors

  • Tinnitus treatment programs

  • Industrial hearing screening and recommendations

  • Dizziness and balance (vertigo) testing and treatment

  • Hearing rehabilitation and auditory training

  • Cochlear implant candidacy evaluations and implant programming (mapping)

Resource:  American Speech Language Hearing Association. (2022). https://www.asha.org/. Retrieved April 17, 2022. 

How Do I Know I Have Hearing Loss?

You may have hearing loss if you experience one or more of the following:

  •  If you have difficulty hearing conversations on the telephone

  • If you have a hard time understanding conversations when more than one person is talking 

  • If you have been exposed to significant noise at work or through recreational activities 

  • If your friends and/or family tell you that you turn the TV volume up too high

  • You have to put in a lot of effort to follow along with conversations

  • If you perceive ringing or buzzing in your ears

  • If you have trouble hearing when you are in noisy environments (e.g., restaurants, group settings)

  • If you frequently find yourself asking people to repeat themselves

  • If family members or coworkers say that you often miss what they said

  • If you hear better in one ear than the other when on the phone or laying on either side

  • If many people you talk to seem to mumble (or not speak clearly)

  • If you respond inappropriately after misunderstanding what people say

  • If you find yourself withdrawing for social interactions due to your difficulty understanding conversations.

  • If you get upset because you don’t understand what others say

Resource:  American Speech Language Hearing Association. (2022). https://www.asha.org/. Retrieved April 17, 2022. 

How Is Hearing Loss Diagnosed?

If you suspect you are exhibiting symptoms of hearing loss, you should see an audiologist to have a formal hearing evaluation. This is a diagnostic test from which the audiologist determines the type and degree of your hearing loss. The hearing evaluation includes a thorough case history, a visual inspection of the ears and ear canals, pure-tone testing, middle ear testing, and speech testing. Results of the hearing evaluation are plotted on a graph called an audiogram and they are reviewed with you by your audiologist. 

Resource:  Advanced Hearing Care. (2022). https://advancedhearingcare.org/hearing-health-faqs. Retrieved April 17, 2022.

How Can Hearing Loss Be Prevented?

Loud noise can damage hearing or cause permanent hearing loss. Dangerous noise levels can be found in workplaces; recreational settings like restaurants, stadiums, and clubs; in the classroom; or even on our own personal audio devices.

What is a safe noise level? We measure noise levels in decibels, or dBA. The higher the noise level, the more at risk you are of damaging your hearing. You can listen to sounds at 70 dBA or lower for as long as you want. Sounds at 85 dBA can lead to hearing loss if you listen to them for more than 8 hours at a time and the louder the noise, the less time we can be exposed before we are at risk for hearing loss. For personal listening devices, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a volume of no more than 80 dBA for adults and 75 dBA for children.  

  • To learn more about general hearing health: Click Here

Resource:  American Speech Language Hearing Association. (2022). https://www.asha.org/. Retrieved April 17, 2022. 

What Are the Different Degrees of Hearing Loss? 

The degree of hearing loss refers to the severity of the loss and is classified as mild, moderate, severe, or profound. An audiologist can determine the severity of a patient's hearing loss by conducting a comprehensive hearing evaluation.  

  • To learn more about the different degrees of hearing loss: Click Here

  • The common way to classify hearing loss in decibels (dB HL): Click Here 

Resources:  

American Speech Language Hearing Association. (2022). https://www.asha.org/. Retrieved April 17, 2022. 

Clark, J. G. (1981). Uses and abuses of hearing loss classification. Asha, 23, 493–500.

What Are the Different Types of Hearing Loss?

There are three basic types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed.

 

Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound is not sent easily through the outer or middle ear space. Conductive hearing loss makes sounds softer and less easy to hear. This type of hearing loss can often be corrected medically or surgically. 

 

Some possible causes of conductive hearing loss are:

  • Fluid in the middle ear from colds or allergies

  •  Ear infection (otitis media)

  • Poor eustachian tube function

  • Hole in the eardrum

  •  Too much earwax (cerumen)

  • Swimmer’s ear (external otitis)

  • Foreign body in the ear canal

  • Malformation of the outer ear, ear canal, or middle ear

  • Diseases of the middle ear bones. 

 

Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) happens when there is damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. Most of the time, SNHL cannot be medically or surgically corrected. This is the most common type of permanent hearing loss. SNHL reduces the ability to hear faint sounds. Even when speech is loud enough to hear, it may still be unclear or sound muffled.

Some possible causes of SNHL are:

  • Drugs that are toxic to hearing

  • Hearing loss that runs in the family (genetic or hereditary)

  • Aging

  • Head trauma

  • Malformation of the inner ear

  • Exposure to loud noise

Mixed hearing loss occurs when a conductive hearing loss happens in combination with a sensorineural hearing loss. In other words, there may be damage in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve.

Resource:  American Speech Language Hearing Association. (2022). https://www.asha.org/. Retrieved April 17, 2022. 

What Style of Hearing Aid Do I Need? 

There are many different hearing aid styles to choose from including Behind-the-ear (BTE), In-the-ear (ITE), In-the-canal (ITC), Completely in the canal (CIC), Invisible in the canal (IIC), and receiver in the canal (RIC). The hearing aid recommendation made by your audiologist is based on many factors, including your hearing loss, dexterity, vision, lifestyle, and listening needs. Your audiologist will work with you to decide which hearing aid manufacturer is best for you based on the features in the hearing aid that will benefit you.

What Are Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs)?

Assistive listening devices (ALDs), also known as hearing assistance technologies (HATs), are devices used to improve speech understanding, boost reception of auditory media, and/or provide awareness of important environmental sounds. Some ALDs can be paired with hearing aids to improve understanding of speech in difficult listening situations. 

What Are the Signs of Hearing Loss in Babies and Children?

Signs of hearing loss in babies

  • Does not startle at loud noises

  • Does not turn to sound source after 6 months of age

  • Does not say single words by 1 year of age

  • Seems to hear certain sounds but not others

 

Signs of hearing loss in children

  • Delayed or unclear speech

  • Difficulty following directions

  • Often says "Huh?" or "What?"

  • Prefers the television at a high volume

Resource:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hearingloss/facts.html. Retrieved April 17, 2022.

What Is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is ringing or other noises occurring in one or both ears that is not caused by an external sound. Tinnitus is a common problem affecting about 15% to 20% of the population.

What Causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is usually caused by an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, noise exposure, an ear injury, or a problem with the circulatory system. It may not be possible to determine the underlying cause of tinnitus for all people who experience it. 

How Is Tinnitus Treated?

For many people, tinnitus can be improved with treatment of the underlying cause (if the underlying cause is known/can be determined) or with strategies or treatments that reduce the person's awareness of the tinnitus. Strategies to reduce awareness of tinnitus include: using sound therapy to identify and listen to pleasant and relaxing sounds, such as nature noises, white noise, pink noise, or brown noise; using a tabletop or box fan at night; or general relaxation strategies, such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga.

What Is Auditory Processing Disorder?

Auditory Processing Disorder, also known as central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), is a condition that impacts the brain’s ability to filter and interpret sounds. People with APD can hear, but have a hard time receiving, organizing, and processing auditory information. APD often emerges in childhood as the difficulty of their schooling increases.

Resource: Rochester Hearing and Speech Center. (2022). https://www.rhsc.org/auditory-processing-disorder-apd. Retrieved April 17,2022.