Diagnostic Audiologic Evaluation

A diagnostic audiologic evaluation is performed for people who have recently been referred to an audiologist for further review of their hearing, possibly because they have failed a hearing test. The diagnostic audiologic evaluation tests to see if hearing loss has occurred, and if it has, detail the kind of loss and how severe it is. It can also evaluate the possible cause, which can help guide the audiologist in creating a plan of treatment.

What Tests Are Completed?

The diagnostic audiologic evaluation testing usually includes bone conduction testing, speech testing and pure-tone testing. During your evaluation the tests that are run depend on symptoms, medical history, and age of patient. They will test the kind of hearing loss experienced, the specific degree of loss, and the condition of the middle ear and ear canal. The audiologist will figure out if the loss is conductive, which means it stems from the middle or outer ear, or if it is sensorineural, which is an inner ear problem or a problem with the central auditory pathways and auditory nerve.

Bone Conduction & Pure-tone Testing

Pure-tone testing is done to determine the softest tones, set at low and high frequencies, that a person is able to hear. Bone conduction testing and pure-tone testing are similar. The only difference is the kind of headset used, which provides the audiologist useful information on the type of loss, conductive or sensorineural.

Speech Testing

Used as a confirmation of results provided by a pure tone test, the speech reception threshold test figures out at what sound level the person can identify speech clearly.

Additional Tests

There are a few other tests the audiologist may perform during an audiologic evaluation. One of these is an otoscopy, in which the audiologist will examine the ear canal, outer ear and eardrum. Another test is a tympanometry, which determines how healthy the ear canal and middle ear are.

Specialized tests are designed for adults with cognitive and developmental impairments, babies and younger children. They test the auditory system, but are designed to be administered without the active participation of the patient, making it easier for the specialist to acquire correct data.

Specialized Treatment for Children

Whenever it is suspected that a child may have hearing loss, it is important to have an audiologic evaluation scheduled right away. Identifying the problem early and creating a good treatment plan will help to improve the child’s chances for social and academic success.

After the evaluation, expect to spend time with the audiologist reviewing your results. They will be able to provide an interpretation of the test results, provide answers to your questions, create a treatment plan, and give you information or referrals if needed.

Audiologists are trained specialists in matters of hearing and hearing treatments. If there is something you do not fully understand, do not hesitate to ask questions for further information or to receive better clarity on your results.

What Should I Expect?

Your evaluation will usually take about 30 to 40 minutes in time. Also expect to spend time reviewing and discussing your test results with your audiologist. If your results show that you require hearing aids, you will need to allow for a time to discuss the different options available.

It is suggested that you come to your evaluation appointment with a family member. Hearing loss is often considered to be a family issue. It may help to have a support person there to help you better understand everything the specialist it’s telling you and recommending.

The audiologist will ask you to provide medical history at your appointment, and will ask questions about any issues you feel you’re having with your hearing. They will focus on any issues you were having with balance, exposure to noise or tinnitus. Be sure to arrive prepared with a list of all supplements and medications you are currently taking.

Speaking with an audiologist is the first step in handling any hearing concerns. Most importantly, do not be hesitant to ask as many questions as needed when at your appointment.

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Kristin Koch, Au.D.

Clinical Audiologist

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Marissa Land, Au.D.

Clinical Audiologist

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Nicole Denney, Au.D.

Clinical Audiologist

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