Here in Richmond, Virginia, there are several different resources for obtaining a hearing test, but the best place to go depends on your objectives in obtaining the hearing test. Here’s a review of the different types of hearing tests offered.
Hearing screenings give a pass or fail result, and indicate only whether or not additional testing is necessary. Hearing screenings are given in public schools, at health fairs, in pediatricians’ or primary care physicians’ offices, and most recently on various websites. Screenings are designed to identify possible hearing difficulties so that people can be referred for a more extensive evaluation if necessary.
Audiometric testing provides specific information regarding hearing levels at each of several different frequencies and therefore defines the degree of hearing loss in each ear. Basic audiometric testing is used in industrial settings to monitor hearing levels in workers who are exposed to potentially harmful noise levels. It is also utilized by hearing aid specialists who are trained to evaluate hearing levels for the sole purpose of fitting hearing aids.
Diagnostic Audiologic Evaluations
Diagnostic audiologic evaluations are performed by audiologists and provide a thorough examination of the entire auditory system from the outer ear to the brain for the purposes of identifying the cause of hearing loss and defining the best treatment protocol. Diagnostic evaluations examine not only hearing levels at each frequency but also middle ear function, speech understanding ability, inner ear function and auditory nerve status.
Audiologists provide audiologic rehabilitation, hearing aid selection and fitting, patient and family counseling, and evaluation and management of tinnitus. Audiologists will also refer patients for medical evaluations in cases of hearing loss that may be treated medically or surgically.
Medical evaluations for hearing loss are required in the following cases:
- Visible congenital or traumatic deformity of the ear;
- History of active drainage from the ear within the previous 90 days;
- History of sudden or rapidly progressing hearing loss within the previous 90 days;
- Acute or chronic dizziness;
- Unilateral hearing loss of sudden or recent onset within the previous 90 days;
- Audiometric air bone gap equal to or greater than 15 dB at 500 Hz, 1000 Hz, and 2000 Hz;
- Visible evidence of significant cerumen accumulation or foreign body in the ear;
- Pain or discomfort in the ear;
- Any child under 18 years of age.
An Ear, Nose and Throat physician should be consulted if any of these criteria are noted. Either following the medical consultation or as part of it, the physician will then refer the patient to an audiologist for diagnostic testing.
After you or your doctor have determined the type of hearing test you will need, it’s recommended that you work with a practice that has both ENT physicians and audiologists on staff who can help you with hearing services along the way.
If you’re in need of assistance with your hearing, please contact Virginia ENT to schedule an appointment today.