Diagnostic Hearing Evaluation
A hearing evaluation is an in-depth assessment of an individuals hearing. It is used to determine the nature and degree of hearing loss and the best treatment and options.
Hearing loss is prevalent in all populations, from pediatric to older adults and there can be many causes. Approximately 31.5 million people report a hearing difficulty; that is around 10% of the U.S. population! So if you have a hearing loss, understand that you are not alone.
What to Expect During an Evaluation
The audiologist will start by taking a case history. She will ask you questions about your medical, family and hearing history. She will then look into your ears using a light called an otoscope, and check for anything in the ear canal that might affect the test results or require a referral to another specialist.
Finally, the audiologist will conduct a series of tests to assess:
Whether there is a hearing loss
The possible cause of the hearing loss
The degree and configuration of hearing loss
The best treatment options
The hearing test will take place in a special soundproof booth or a very quiet room. During this test the audiologist will determine your thresholds (the faintest tones you can hear) at selected pitches, from low to high. During this test, earphones or headphones are worn so that information can be obtained for each ear.
The person taking the test may be asked to respond to the sounds in a variety of ways, by:
Raising a finger or hand
Pressing a button
Pointing to the ear where the sound was received
Saying "yes" to indicate that the sound was heard
The results are recorded on an audiogram.
The Aging Ear
Presbycusis (hearing loss that develops as one ages) is the most common form of hearing loss in adults over the age of 55. By the age of 65, one out of three people have hearing loss yet 80% do nothing about it. Some common signs of hearing loss include:
- Asking others to repeat themselves
- Difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments
- Turning the volume on television, telephone and radio higher
- Avoiding social situations
- Feelings of isolation, depression, irritability and frustration
- Being told by others to have your hearing checked
Types of Hearing Loss
There are two basic types of hearing loss: conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. A combination of both is called a mixed hearing loss. These two types of hearing loss are determined by which part of the auditory system is damaged.
Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss
Research demonstrates the effects of hearing loss on development as well as negative social, psychological, cognitive and health effects of untreated hearing loss. Those who have difficulty hearing can experience such difficulty communicating that it seriously impacts their professional and personal lives, at times leading to isolation and withdrawal.
Studies have linked untreated hearing loss effects to:
- Irritability, negativism and anger
- Fatigue, tension, stress and depression
- Avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
- Social rejection and loneliness
- Reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
- Impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
- Reduced job performance and earning power
- Diminished psychological and overall health
- Poor self esteem due to difficulty in school
Although sensorineural hearing loss cannot be reversed, there are ways to improve your hearing. The most common and effective way to do this is to be fit with hearing aids.