Any treatment for hearing loss, or creation of custom hearing protection solutions, starts with a hearing test. At Advanced Hearing Solutions, we use the most state-of-the-art equipment to provide the best, most-accurate hearing evaluation available, so you can rest easy knowing you’ve gotten the most accurate picture possible of your hearing ability. Thorough, accurate testing ensures that any underlying issues are uncovered, and any hearing loss related to curable or temporary issues can be remediated before hearing aids are fitted.
The Better Hearing Institute, a not-for-profit organization, has recommended that everyone should have a hearing exam once a decade until age 50, and once every three years thereafter. Those with a higher risk should have a hearing test even more frequently. If you haven’t had a hearing test in a while, there’s never a bad time to start keeping track of your hearing health. Prevention is truly the best medicine, and knowing whether you’ve suffered some hearing loss can help you prevent further loss going forward, even if you’re still within the threshold of normal hearing.
Full Diagnostic Hearing Exam
A “hearing screening” uses pure-tone audiometry (see below) to find out whether you have a degree of hearing loss that poses a concern. A full diagnostic hearing evaluation, however, involves a few more tests and tells us much more about what’s going on with your hearing ability.
When you arrive for your hearing evaluation, we’ll ask you to fill out a questionnaire. This form will ask questions about what concerns you might have about your hearing ability, the times when hearing is most difficult for you, your lifestyle and medical history, as well as your family medical history. There are many potential reasons that hearing loss may become an issue for a person, so it is important for us to have as much information as possible in order to accurately diagnose any problems and put together the most appropriate treatment plan for you.
Before the test begins, your audiologist will talk with you about your answers to the questionnaire. This conversation helps us get an even better understanding of what your experience of your hearing ability is like, and what underlying causes, if any, might be at work. They may ask about your work, hobbies, and other ways you spend your time where loud noise may be an issue, or hearing loss may pose a problem.
Otoscopy involves looking at the different parts of your ear to make sure nothing is physically abnormal. The doctor will visually examine the outer part of your ear, and also use an otoscope (like the kind your general practitioner uses) to look at your ear canal and make sure there are no obstructions or signs of disease.
Tympanometry uses an air-pressure test to make sure your eardrum is functioning normally. If your eardrum appears stiff, it may indicate a middle ear problem or a waxy buildup. The test will also determine whether you might have a perforation (hole) in your eardrum.
Pure-tone audiometry is a typical type of hearing test you may be familiar with from screening. You’ll be asked to wear a set of headphones in a sound-proof booth, and a series of tones will play. You’ll be asked to respond to each tone you hear. This will measure your ability to hear at a variety of frequencies and will help present a picture of your hearing ability across the full frequency spectrum.
Each of these hearing tests takes only a minute or two, and they are all entirely painless.
Speech audiometry is conducted the same way as pure-tone audiometry but uses spoken words and phrases instead of tones. This helps us to get a sense of your ability to comprehend speech compared to your raw hearing ability, as measured in your pure-tone test. We may also conduct a “speech-in-noise” test, where we play speech with different levels of background noise. These tests help us to determine how a set of hearing aids will need to be programmed to help you understand speech in a variety of environments.
Hidden Hearing Loss - Some people score well on a hearing test, but still have issues hearing out in the world. This condition is known as hidden hearing loss. Hidden hearing loss is common among veterans who were exposed to the vibrations from loud blasts, American football players, boxers, and others who may have experienced frequent, minor head traumas or excessive vibration. Hidden hearing loss results when the myelin sheaths around the auditory nerves sustain damage, leaking signals and reducing the amount of information that ultimately makes its way to the brain.
At Advanced Hearing Solutions, we use video otoscopy, which allows you to see exactly what the doctor sees when he examines your ear canal! This is just one example of the advanced, modern pieces of equipment we use when conducting evaluations, designing custom protection solutions, and fitting hearing aids.
Industrial and Military Hearing Evaluation
Advanced Hearing Solutions works with companies and military institutions to conduct hearing evaluations for those at a high risk of hearing loss. We help factories and military outposts confirm that the hearing protection solutions they have in place are working by making sure the individuals who are exposed are not suffering from hearing loss at a rate that differs from the general population.
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) tests are frequently conducted to test newborn babies for hearing loss, but can be useful in adults as well. Our inner ears, where mechanical sound energy is converted into electrical energy, commonly emit sound back into the middle ear. OAE testing helps confirm if the middle and inner ear are functioning properly together. An abnormal result from an OAE test can indicate a variety of possible issues, which can then be tested for.
Patient and Family-Centered Hearing Aid Consultation
Every hearing test begins with a consultation. Before conducting a hearing test, we want to know what your occupation and/or lifestyle is like, whether you are aware of any hearing issues in your family history, whether you’ve noticed any hearing issues, or what you’re hoping to achieve with hearing aids or custom hearing protection.
At Advanced Hearing Solutions, we’re committed to providing the best care available to each and every individual, and our variety of state-of-the-art tests and thorough consultation helps us to get a sense of each of our patients’ lives and concerns. Our years of expertise help us to guide you in the right direction to get the best solution for you and your needs, every time.