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How is Hearing Loss Tested?

Hearing loss can be detected in multiple ways. Audiologists use a variety of screenings and tests to confirm hearing loss. These tests not only detect loss of hearing, but also determine the type of hearing loss and the amount of hearing loss they are experiencing. The type of test an audiologist administers can depend on the person’s age or issues they’ve already experienced with their hearing.

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)

The ABR testing method requires the person being tested to be connected to a computer through electrodes being stuck on the head and skin. When sounds are played, the computer will show if the person’s brain is showing activity in the auditory nerve which indicates that the person is hearing the sounds.

Otoacoustic Emission (OAE) screening

An Otoacoustic Emission screening is similar to ABR testing, in that it can determine hearing ability without a verbal or physical response. Instead of looking for brain activity, this test uses a tiny device that is placed in the ear and records sounds the inner ear makes in response to the sounds made by the test.

Behavioral Audiometry Evaluation

Unlike the previous tests mentioned, this type of hearing test requires the participant to actively respond. For older children and adults, the response could be to raise a hand or pressing a button when they hear a sound. For babies 6 months to 2 years, the audiologist may use a Visual Reinforcement Audiometry test which includes teaching the child to look in the direction of the sound – once the child looks in the correct direction, he or she is rewarded with a flashing toy or light. For children a little older, Conditioned Play Audiometry has the child do an action such as adding a block to a bin when they hear a sound.

Middle Ear Testing

Middle ear hearing tests can be done in multiple ways. These tests are important because they can detect hearing loss stemming from problems like an ear infection. A problem in the middle ear will prohibit sounds from reaching your inner ear and brain. Hearing tests that evaluate the middle ear particularly, such as Tympanometry tests, Acoustic Reflex tests, and Static Acoustic Impedance, usually include inserting a probe or something similar into the ear. These test aim to measure vibrations or other types of reactions in the ear to sounds or checks to make sure the ear canal is clear for sound to move through.

The type of test administered is chosen by the audiologist and is based on varying factors like age, ability, or symptoms the patient has already displayed. If you have questions about hearing loss or feel you or someone you know may be experiencing hearing loss, contact New Generation Hearing Centers today for a free consultation!