Diagnostic Audiologic Evaluation
If you or your child has been referred for a diagnostic hearing evaluation with Dr. Diane Williams, it means that hearing loss needs to be ruled out or further examined. The diagnostic hearing evaluation may be indicated for a variety of reasons. Some referral reasons are for individuals who did not pass an initial hearing screening, suffer from speech delay, have experienced head trauma, or have been exposed to recreational or occupational noise exposure.
The evaluation will determine if a hearing loss is present, and if so, to detail the type and severity of the hearing loss. It also may provide insight into the cause of the hearing loss as well as provide guidance for Dr. Williams in making appropriate treatment recommendations.
What Tests Will Be Done?
The specific tests done during the evaluation will depend on the patient's age, and what is known already about their hearing status. These various tests will determine the degree of hearing loss, the type of hearing loss, and the conditions of the ear canal and middle ear. Dr. Williams will also determine if the hearing loss is conductive (middle or outer ear problem) or sensorineural (inner ear problem or central processing difficulty of the brain).
A diagnostic hearing evaluation includes pure tone and bone conduction, speech in quiet, and middle ear function testing.
Pure tone Air and Bone Conduction Testing
Pure tone air conduction testing determines the quietest tones that a person can hear at different frequencies, both low and high. Bone conduction testing is similar to pure tone air conduction testing. A bone oscillator is used during bone conduction testing, and the results help Dr. Williams determine if the hearing loss is originating from the outer/middle ear or from the inner ear.
A speech reception threshold (SRT) test is often used with older children and adults to confirm the results of a pure tone test. This test determines the lowest level at which the patient can recognize words or speech stimuli.
The Dr. Williams will also perform otoscopy (examining the ear canal) and tympanometry (test of the middle ear) to determine the health of the ear canal and the middle ear.
Otoacoustic Emissions exist for the assessment of the outer hair cells of the inner ear, and is performed to obtain objective data. These more specialized tests allow Dr. Williams to more accurately evaluate the auditory function and will assist in determining the best treatment options.
Visual reinforcement and conditioned play audiometry for children
For children, it is important to have a diagnostic hearing evaluation whenever a hearing loss is suspected or speech delay is present. It is the first step in identifying hearing loss and dealing with it to improve quality of life.
Along with the evaluation, you should generally expect to have time to review the results with Dr. Williams. She will interpret the tests for you, answer your questions, provide you with information and referrals as needed, as well as begin planning for treatment, if indicated.
What Can I Expect During a Diagnostic Hearing Evaluation?
The evaluation will probably last about 30 to 40 minutes in length. You should also allow for time for discussion with Dr. Williams to review test results, and ask questions.
If the determination is made that you need hearing aids, allow for sufficient time to discuss your options.
It is recommended that you bring a family member with you to the evaluation appointment. Dr. Williams states that hearing loss is a family issue and can negatively impact all who wish to communicate. By reviewing the hearing evaluation results and understanding how speech understanding is diminished, family members can learn appropriate strategies to assist in better communication.
Before your appointment, a complete medical history will be completed and Dr. Williams will want to hear about any complaints you have about your hearing. She will pay special attention to any concerns you have about exposure to noise, tinnitus, and balance problems. Make sure that you take a full list of any medications and supplements you are taking with you to your appointment.