Hearing issues are surprisingly common among the American population. In fact, statistics by the US Department of Health and Human Services show that two or three in 1,000 children have detectable hearing loss, while 15% of adults aged 18 and above have reported experiencing hearing loss at some time.
But how do we hear? Hearing happens when soundwaves travel to your eardrum, causing it to vibrate. This vibration forces the soundwaves further inside the ear and triggers nerve cells to send useful information to your brain. This information is converted into the sounds you hear.
To diagnose hearing issues, it is necessary to conduct tests which measure how well you can hear. There are various tests which can identify and diagnose hearing challenges, and the type of test used will depend on several factors, including age.
Hearing tests types for children
Routine hearing tests are suggested for most infants and kids, and they are usually performed before they leave the clinic. In the event that your infant doesn't pass the assessment, it doesn't necessarily indicate a genuine hearing issue. In this instance however, your child should be retested within three months. Some of the hearing tests are:
- Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) test: The OAE test checks part of the inward ear's reaction to sound. It measures otoacoustic outflows or OAEs, which the inward ear emits with the help of hair cells that respond to sound by vibrating. This test is generally performed on babies and younger kids who will not react to social hearing tests due to their age.
- Auditory brainstorm (ABR) test: This test is a useful instrument in deciding a child's capacity to hear. It uses a unique PC to gauge how the auditory nerves within a child's ear react to various sounds. This is a safe and easy way to perceive how the nerves and cerebrum react to sounds. It also provides the audiologist with information regarding conceivable hearing loss in children.
- Tympanometry: When it comes to eardrum movement, tympanometry tests are the go-to. For this test, the audiologist puts a small probe resembling a headphone inside the ear. The probe is then connected to another device which drives air into the ear canal. A diagram called a tympanogram then shows the results. This technique is also used to detect the presence of center ear emanation by providing information about tympanic layer compliance.
Hearing tests for adults
- Tuning fork tests: Tuning forks are a fast, straightforward way to determine the conceivable presence or absence of a substantial conductive component to hearing loss. They are generally used to give early demonstrative information when audiometry isn't accessible or possible and involve two tests: the Weber and Rinne tests. These tests help the audiologist determine whether a person has conductive or sensorineural hearing loss, and allows them to develop a treatment plan accordingly.
- Speech and word recognition tests: These tests are used to gauge speech segregation – also called word recognition ability. The patient is made to listen to a word or recording and then asked to rehash the words. The audiologist then measures their capacity to comprehend speech at a calm listening level. This can be helpful when determining how useful a specific hearing aid is for any given individual.
- Acoustic reflex measures: Acoustic reflexes measure the stapedius and the tensor tympani reflex created by the eardrum in light of extraordinary sound. When either ear is exposed to a rowdy sound, the stapedius muscles on the two sides contract. Constriction of the stapedius muscle inclines the foremost stapes away from the oval window and solidifies the ossicular chain. Measuring these reflexes can be useful when checking for specific kinds of hearing loss in circumstances where it is difficult to rely on the patient for information. Additionally, they periodically highlight focal sensory system pathology.
- Pure-tone test: Pure-tone audiometry is an interactive test used to quantify hearing sensitivity and involves the peripheral and central auditory systems. This is the principle hearing test used to distinguish an individual's hearing threshold by measuring the degree of hearing loss, and then finding a way to manage the issue. Pure-tone thresholds (PTTs) show the mildest sound perceptible to a person at any rate half of the time.
The bottom line is that one test may not be enough to diagnose the problem. Therefore, your audiologist may request any combination of tests to ensure accurate results.
Hear for You Hearing & Balance Center has a professional team of qualified audiologists to help you prevent, diagnose and treat hearing loss and its related challenges. To learn more about Hear for You Hearing & Balance Center and how we can help you, call us today at 401-475-6116.