A diagnostic hearing evaluation is the first step in determining your hearing capability. If you have hearing loss, the evaluation will detail the extent, type, and specifics of your hearing loss. Diagnostic hearing evaluations are performed by an audiologist, usually in his or her office, using a piece of equipment called an audiometer.
Diagnostic hearing evaluations consist of a variety of tests that help determine the unique aspects of your hearing loss, as well as the level at which you can detect and understand speech. They can be conducted on people of any age, from newborn infants to seniors.
A Diagnostic Hearing Evaluation May Include the Following Tests:
- Air conduction test
- Bone conduction test
- Speech testing
- Distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAE) testing
- Auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing
- Tympanometry or acoustic immittance testing
Diagnostic hearing evaluations are covered by most health insurance policies, though you may need a referral from your primary care physician to qualify for coverage.
Why Diagnostic Hearing Evaluations Are Important
Diagnostic hearing evaluations identify hearing loss and give your audiologist important information to help determine the best course of action for treatment. Some types of hearing loss can be treated medically or surgically, so it’s important that these types of hearing loss be ruled out before hearing aids or other treatments are considered.
If it is determined that you could benefit from hearing aids, a diagnostic hearing evaluation can help your audiologist determine which hearing aids will be most appropriate for your needs.
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 some time for a discussion with the audiologist to review the test results and ask questions. If the audiologist determines that you need a hearing aid, allow sufficient time to discuss your options.
It is recommended that you bring a family member with you to the evaluation appointment. Most audiologists agree that hearing loss is a family issue. It helps to have another supportive person at the appointment to help you understand the information and recommendations.
Before your appointment, you will need to provide your complete medical history, and the audiologist will want to hear about any complaints you have regarding your hearing. He or she will pay special attention to any concerns you have regarding noise exposure, tinnitus, or balance problems. Make sure that you take a full list of any medications and supplements you are taking with you to your appointment.
Finally, the diagnostic hearing evaluation provides a good opportunity to establish a relationship with your audiologist. It helps to ask around for recommendations for audiologists in your area and find someone who listens carefully to your concerns. Above all, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Clarify any information you receive so that you can be an active participant in the search for a hearing solution that fits you and your lifestyle.