The first step to improving your hearing is to diagnose the cause of your hearing loss and determine its severity. In order to do so, you will undergo an audiological evaluation that includes several tests, including some or all of the tests outlined below.
Both bone conduction testing and air conduction testing are used to measure the level of hearing loss as well as the type. The two tests are similar in that they each use pure tones to test your hearing but differ in the means of testing. Air conduction testing sends the tone to the ear through headphones while bone conduction testing uses a bone oscillator that delivers the sound through the mastoid bone, which is the bone right behind the ear, directly to the inner ear. By skipping the outer and middle ears, bone conduction testing can help narrow down the location of the hearing loss.
An audiologist can narrow down the location of your hearing loss by performing a tympanometry and acoustic reflex decay test. This audiological evaluation assesses the middle ear and determines how well your ear drum performs against different level of air pressure. It can also detect the presence of fluid in the middle ear, in which case your hearing loss is likely temporary and easily treated by a doctor.
One of the common causes of temporary hearing loss is Eustachian tube dysfunction. The Eustachian tube is connected to the ear drum and runs about 1.3 inches to the back of the nose. Most people recognize it as the location that builds up pressure during airplane take offs and landings and results in your ears popping. It can easily become blocked during colds, sinus infections and allergies, which can cause temporary hearing loss. By undergoing Eustachian tube dysfunction testing, you can learn whether your hearing loss is caused by a treatable medical condition or whether you may need hearing aids.
Speech in noise testing, such as word discrimination testing, evaluates how well you hear and understand speech in a noisy, real world setting. Since people with hearing loss often have difficulty discerning individual sounds, specifically speech, in a loud environment, this test can help your audiologist choose the right hearing aid to best suit your hearing needs.
Another way that we can examine your hearing is to do a video examination of your ear by using an otoscope. The otoscope provides a glimpse inside your ear using a small camera and gives audiologists a closer look at your ear canal and ear drum.
Tinnitus, which is a hearing disorder characterized by a ringing in the ears, may not have a cure but there are ways to relieve the symptoms. After undergoing a series of tests for a tinnitus evaluation, we can help you create a plan to receive some much-needed tinnitus relief.
Tinnitus treatment often consists of disguising the ringing in the ears with a more soothing background noise. Hearing aids also offer tinnitus relief, especially for people who also have hearing loss. By pairing hearing aids with other sounds that mask the tinnitus, it makes it easier to block out the ringing in the ears and focus on the more pleasant sounds.
If you’re ready to get to the root of your hearing loss, schedule an audiological evaluation with North Coast Audiology today.