The first step to diagnosing and treating hearing loss is to have a hearing test conducted by an audiologist. These tests are non-invasive, painless and simple to perform. There are a variety of hearing tests the audiologist may utilize, including several of the following.
Diagnostic hearing evaluations
At Hawaii Mobile Audiology and Hearing Aids, we put our professionals in the driver’s seat! Our audiologists perform diagnostic hearing evaluations in the comfort of your home. Your hearing expert uses specialized equipment called an audiometer to determine how well you hear. The audiometer, along with additional tests, helps define the unique aspects of your hearing loss as well as the level at which you detect and understand speech. Our experts evaluate people of all ages, from newborns to seniors. The audiologist determines which tests are done, depending upon your age and a physical examination of your ears.
These are some of the exams included in a diagnostic hearing evaluation:
- Air conduction testing
- Bone conduction testing
- Speech testing
- Tympanometry or acoustic immittance testing
- Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) screening
Auditory brainstem response (ABR) and auditory steady-state response (ASSR) testing
Generally, diagnostic evaluations include the first three or four tests listed above.
An air conduction test, also called pure-tone testing, determine how well you hear tones at different frequencies, both low and high. Bone conduction testing is similar and helps identify if hearing loss originates from the outer/middle ear or from the inner ear. Speech testing helps to confirm the results of a pure-tone test and determines the lowest level at which you recognize words and speech.
In addition to these tests, your audiologist may examine your ear canal (otoscopy) and measure the function of your middle ear and eardrum (tympanometry). Together, all the exams help determine if your hearing loss is conductive or sensorineural, or both. Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound waves are blocked from getting to the inner ear; sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the nerves that carry sound to the brain are damaged.
There are specialized tests for infants and young children, as well as children and adults with developmental and cognitive impairments.
Most health insurance policies cover a diagnostic hearing evaluation but it’s best to check with your insurance company to determine if a referral is needed.
Diagnostic hearing evaluation details
Expect our audiologist to be at your house for about an hour or so. The evaluation takes about 30 to 40 minutes and then the audiologist reviews the test results with you and answers any questions you may have. If you need hearing aids, we’ll discuss your options as well.
Prior to the hearing tests, we will ask about your medical history and any complaints you have regarding your hearing. Be sure to discuss any concerns you have about noise exposure, tinnitus, and balance problems. You’ll also want to prepare a list of your medications and supplements for the audiologist to review.
The results of a diagnostic hearing evaluation help determine the best course of treatment for your hearing loss. For many people, hearing aids are recommended. However, sometimes medical or surgical treatments may help improve hearing. Our audiologists use the results of your hearing evaluation to determine what style and type of hearing aids will be best for you.
Don’t hesitate to have a family member with you during your evaluation appointment for support. Because we come to your home, we hope you will feel more at ease during the tests and discussing your treatment options.
Live speech mapping
Over the last several decades, advancing technologies have greatly improved the hearing evaluation process and made hearing aid programming more effective. One such advanced technology is known as live speech mapping.
Live speech mapping allows your audiologist to use speech to adjust to the settings that are correct for you. Because the settings are specific, your hearing aids are programmed faster with fewer visits.
How live speech mapping works
Small microphones are placed in the ear canal to help determine how you hear speech through your hearing aids. A family member or friend helps you gauge how well you hear live voices. Your audiologist has special equipment that allows him or her to see on a screen, in real time, what you are hearing. This means very accurate hearing aid settings with immediate results.
Additional benefits of live speech mapping:
- Focuses on the important and basic function of being able to effectively hear human speech
- Engages both you and your family in the fitting process
- Provides immediate and tangible results
- Shown to increase successful outcomes of fittings
- Increases your confidence and comfort in using your new hearing aids
- Provides more accurate programming of hearing aids
Hawaii Mobile Audiology and Hearing Aids uses live speech mapping to provide you with precise programming of your hearing aids with less stress because you are in the comfort of your own home.