What to Expect During a Hearing Test


Step 1.

Patient Intake

When you arrive for your hearing test, you will be greeted by the front office staff and asked to fill out a few simple forms. These forms ask you to provide some basic information about yourself, your medical history and, your health insurance, if applicable. You will also receive our notice of privacy as mandated by law.

Step 2.

Meet your Audiologist, Dr. Douglas Steinberg, Au.D.

Dr. Steinberg will spend ample time with you to fully understand your unique struggles when it comes to your hearing. Dr. Steinberg will review your personal information and then ask you a few questions designed to discover the specific types of listening environments that are difficult for you. Learning about your lifestyle and your current listening needs will help Dr. Steinberg recommend the best hearing solution for you.

If you have a build-up of ear wax in your ear, Dr. Steinberg is proficient in removing ear wax. He implements a variety of techniques to successfully remove cerumen from an occluded ear canal. The most common method is using a curette/small tool with a looped end which is inserted into the ear canal and removes the wax. He uses powerful light and magnification so he can properly visualize the wax within the canal. He also uses suction or other instruments when necessary.


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Step 3.

Otoscopic Examination/Cerumen Removal

Following your initial interview, Dr. Steinberg will take a look into your ears using a tool called an otoscope. This medical instrument is used to view your ear canal and ear drum and help the audiologist determine whether there is cerumen (ear wax) obstructing the ear canal.  Furthermore, Dr. Steinberg will exam your ear drum to make sure it looks healthy and normal.

Step 4.

Tympanometry

This quick, painless test involves the clinician placing a probe in your ear canal which applies a quick change in pressure. It may feel similar to the pressure change you feel in your ears when going up in an elevator to a high floor or ascending or descending in an airplane. This test measures your eardrum mobility. A lack of eardrum mobility (stiffness) may indicate the presence of fluid in the middle ear space behind the eardrum. Abnormal eardrum mobility may also indicate other middle ear issues. Tympanometry can also indicate the presence of a perforation in the eardrum or can indicate the presence of positive or negative middle ear pressure, also sign of middle ear dysfunction.

Step 5.

Pure Tone Testing

Pure tone testing involves you listening to tones of different pitches and responding when you hear the tone. Testing occurs in a booth which is designed to reduce any ambient noise in the environment that may interfere with testing. The tones are presented either through earphones or ear inserts. The clinician finds the softest tones you can hear. The softest tone one can hear is called a threshold. Different frequencies or pitches are tested to find your hearing thresholds across the frequency spectrum. These thresholds are then plotted on a graph called an audiogram. The lower one’s hearing threshold, the better. Normal hearing thresholds range between -10 and 25 decibels. If one’s thresholds are higher than 25 dB, this individual has reduced hearing sensitivity or hearing loss. The severity of hearing loss is determined based on the level of the individual’s hearing thresholds.

HearingLoss

Bone Conduction Testing

This is a pure tone test identical to the one mentioned above, except the tones are presented through a transducer similar to a headband with a little black box placed on one side of the head. This test determines the presence of a mixed or conductive hearing loss. A mixed or conductive hearing loss may indicate a middle ear condition such as otosclerosis or otitis media.

Speech Testing

Speech audiometry involves the presentation of words through headphones. The individual then repeats the words he/she hears. The level of the words is adjusted to find the softest word you can identify. The softest word one can identity is called the Speech Recognition Thresholds (SRT).

Word recognition is another speech test which involves the presentation of words and repetition by the patient. This test is usually conducted at a level in which the words sound comfortably loud. Usually 25 words are presented. The score is calculated as the percentage of words identified correctly.

Step 6.

Explanation of Results

Once the testing is complete, your audiologist will explain the results. The results are explained in terms that make sense to you and that are applicable to the real world. After all, we don’t go around listening to tones throughout the day, but rather to speech and environmental sounds in various settings. If you have hearing loss, the implications of the hearing loss will be explained to you.

Step 7.

Discussion of Treatment Options

If a hearing loss has been identified during your hearing test, the audiologist will discuss your treatment options. If a conductive or mixed hearing loss is present, the recommendation may involve a referral to an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician who specializes in the medical and surgical treatment of hearing loss. A referral to Ear, Nose, and Throat typically happens less than 10% of the time. Most of the time, treatment for hearing loss is best managed by your audiologist. There are many options available to treat hearing loss. Dr. Steinberg will review those options with you and answer any questions you may have regarding results or treatment options.

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