A comprehensive hearing evaluation is recommended for individuals who experience any difficulty hearing conversations and/or environmental sounds (i.e., birds chirping, watch alarms). This difficulty may present as difficulty understanding parts of speech in quiet or in the presence of competing/background noise. Additionally, a hearing evaluation is recommended for individuals who experience ear symptoms such as hearing noises in their ear(s) and/or head (“tinnitus”), and/or ear pressure and dizziness. Individuals who are at risk for hearing loss due to noise exposure, family history, co-existing conditions (i.e., diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension) or exposure to ototoxic medications (often associated with cancer treatments) should also consider a baseline hearing evaluation.
Overview of appointment
- Your appointment will be scheduled for one hour.
- There is no fee for the hearing evaluation.
- Your services will be provided by a graduate level student clinician who will be supervised by a licensed audiologist and member of our faculty.
Components of an evaluation
- Our graduate student clinician will take a detailed case history to better understand your hearing difficulties, along with a medical history including current mediations to determine associated signs and symptoms related to hearing loss.
- Your ear canals will be examined via an otoscope for excess cerumen (wax) and to check the health of your ear canal and tympanic membrane (eardrum).
- Earphones will be placed over your ears or small foam inserts will be placed in your ears for this evaluation. You will hear a series of pulsing sounds that will vary in loudness and pitch. You will be asked to raise your hand or press a button whenever you hear the sound, even if the sound is very soft. This will assess your hearing levels for each ear at various pitches (i.e., frequencies) which are important for hearing speech.
- A small box (oscillator) will be placed behind your ear on the mastoid bone. The device looks like a headband. You will hear the same series of pulsing sounds and respond when you hear the sounds, even at the softest levels. This will help determine the type of hearing loss (i.e., conductive, sensorineural, or mixed).
- Speech recognition threshold: You will be asked to repeat words down to the softest level that you can detect in each ear.
- Word recognition testing: You will be asked to repeat words to determine the clarity component of your hearing. These words will stay at a constant volume which has been adjusted to an optimal level based on your hearing thresholds.
- Speech in noise testing: You may be asked to perform a test where recorded sentences are delivered in the presence of varying background noise. This will help assess your ability to understand speech in complex environments.
- A small rubber tip will be placed in your ear to seal the ear canal and the pressure will change in your ear canal. This will help to determine the status of your eardrum and middle ear system.
- A small plug will be placed in both ears and you will hear a series of loud sounds. This assesses a reflex pathway and will be interpreted relative to your audiometric test results and symptoms. This test is not conducted for all individuals and is conducted only if clinically indicated.
Findings and recommendations
- This important aspect of your appointment will be used to explain your test results. Your results will be discussed in a way that is tied back to your main listening difficulties to help you understand what may be contributing to your challenges. You will learn about the type of hearing loss and degree of hearing loss. Treatment plans are individualized and will depend on a number of factors. Recommendations MAY include the following: 1) return for continued monitoring (one to two years), 2) continue with or return for a hearing aid consultation or hearing assistive device assessment, 3) return for communication strategies training or 4) referral for a medical evaluation with your primary care physician or an Ear, Nose and Throat (i.e., Otolaryngology) physician.