Why Audiologists Do So Many Tests For A Hearing Aid Evaluation

When you go for a hearing aid evaluation, you'll find yourself undergoing several different tests. Only one of these has you listening for that beep that you remember from childhood tests, and you may wonder why you have to go through all of these. The whole sequence of tests is meant to provide as complete a picture of your hearing as the audiologist can get, and that helps them find the correct hearing aid for you.

Your Physical Ear Structure Needs to Be Able to Handle the Aids

The exam shows whether or not your physical ear can handle hearing aids, and if so, which types might be better. Someone with ear canal problems may prefer a behind-the-ear hearing aid with a soft earpiece, while those without ear canal issues may prefer a hearing aid that sits in the ear canal. The audiologist will need to look in your ear with an otoscope to see if the tympanic membrane (your "eardrum") looks as it should; if it doesn't, you may need to visit an ENT doctor first.

The Audiologist Needs a Current Picture of How You Hear Everything

If you haven't had a hearing evaluation in a while, the audiologist will want to get a current picture of what's happening with your hearing. Hearing can get worse, so the exam you had a few months ago may no longer be accurate. Also, some people think that one test where you raise your hand when you hear a beep is a full hearing test; in reality, it only gives you a surface picture of what's going on. The battery of tests you get in a full hearing aid evaluation shows how well you hear sounds and words, along with whether the issue involves certain parts of your hearing system.

They Have to Ensure They Know the Type of Hearing Loss You Have

While audiologists can't diagnose the specific cause of your hearing loss, they can get a good idea of where the problem is along the path that sound takes through your head. That affects the type of hearing aid you get and how the hearing aid is programmed. There are two main types you'll learn about, called conductive and sensorineural. Conductive losses occur when the problem is in the external or middle ears (from the side of your head through a section that has tiny bones that help transmit sound to your brain); sensorineural losses occur when the problem is in your inner ear or beyond, including in your brain. If you've seen a diagram of a cross-section of your head, the inner ear has that coiled cochlea and those loops (altogether called the vestibule or labyrinth) that handle balance. Giving you a complete exam ensures they have a good picture of what you'll need in the hearing aid.

For more info about hearing evaluations, contact a local doctor.