A diagnostic hearing evaluation is the first step in determining your hearing capability and the extent, type, and specifics of your particular hearing loss. The diagnostic hearing evaluation will be performed by an audiologist, usually in his or her office, using a machine called an audiometer.
The diagnostic hearing evaluation consists of a variety of tests to determine the unique aspects of your hearing loss, as well as the level at which you can detect and understand speech. This evaluation can be done on all people from infants to seniors.
The most basic diagnostic hearing evaluation will probably include these common tests: a speech recognition threshold test, a word recognition test, and a tympanometry test.
Additional tests may include:
- Air conduction testing
- Bone conduction testing
- Distortion product otoacoustic emissions testing
- Auditory brain stem response (ABR) testing
The diagnostic hearing evaluation is covered by most health insurance policies, though you may need a referral from your primary care physician to quality for coverage.
Why a Diagnostic Hearing Evaluation is Important
Diagnostic hearing evaluations give your audiologist important information about your hearing loss 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 are considered.
Once it's determined that you could benefit from hearing aids, the diagnostic hearing evaluations let's your audiologist know which hearing aid will be appropriate for your needs.
What Can I Expect During a Diagnostic Hearing Evaluation?
The evaluation itself will probably last about 30 to 40 minutes in length. You should also allow for about 30 minutes of discussion time with the audiologist to ask questions and receive information about your hearing loss.
If the determination is made that you need hearing aids, allow for another hour or so to pick out hearing aids and components.
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 remember and be clear on all information and recommendations. This person's voice will also be used to test the volume and clarity of your hearing aid.
Before your appointment, a complete medical history will be completed and the audiologist will want to hear about any complaints you have about your hearing. She will pay special attention to any concerns you have about exposure to noise, tinnitus, and balance problems. Make sure that you take a full list of any medications you are taking to your appointment with you, as your audiologist will want to know exactly what you have been prescribed.
The diagnostic hearing evaluation is a good chance to establish a relationship with your audiologist. It helps to ask around for recommendations to audiologists in your area and find someone who listens carefully to your concerns. Above all, don't be afraid to ask lots of questions. You will want to be clear on any information you receive so that you can be an active participant in finding hearing solutions that work best for you and your lifestyle.