There are different reasons you might need or think you need a hearing evaluation, and as we all age, it’s more likely that we may experience possible issues with our hearing. When you do a hearing evaluation, which is different from a hearing screening, it can help determine things such as the type of hearing loss you have.
The following are some of the important and key things to know about hearing evaluations.
The Difference Between a Hearing Evaluation and Screening
There can sometimes be confusion between a hearing evaluation and screening, so if you are experiencing hearing-related issues, it can be helpful to have an understanding of how the two differ from one another.
A hearing screening is either a pass or a fail. All it is used to determine is whether you have normal hearing or you don’t. During a hearing screening, you will typically hear a set of beeps and varying tones, and then you see if you can hear them. You don’t have to go to a specialist to do a hearing screening and it can often be done at a primary care doctor’s office.
A screening test can provide some evidence of hearing loss, but it won’t tell you to what degree or the specific type.
A hearing evaluation is also known as a hearing exam, and it is done by someone who is a licensed audiologist or a specialist in hearing instruments.
A hearing evaluation goes much more in-depth and looks at things such as your medical history, and it also includes different types of hearing tests.
Types of Hearing Evaluations
As was touched on, when you get a hearing evaluation, it includes several different types of tests.
One type of test that you might expect is called air conduction. During an air conduction test, the person doing your test will have to put on headphones to listen to tones at different pitches.
Another specific test that might be included in a hearing evaluation is a bone conduction test for tone, and there are also speech-related tests that are part of a hearing evaluation.
Speech testing is one speech test, and there may also be a speech reception test.
Overall the goal of a hearing evaluation and the different components of the test is to help your health care provider gain a better understanding of the full scope of your hearing loss—for example, what part of the ear is causing the problem or is it multiple parts of the ear.
What Are Some Common Reasons for Hearing Loss?
There are varying reasons you might experience hearing loss, and some of them are short-term, while others are long-term and potentially irreversible. In the short-term, something like an ear infection can cause hearing loss. This can be called otitis media, and it happens when your eardrum is inflamed.
There are different reasons the eardrum might become inflamed include allergies or a buildup of fluid from a bacteria or virus.
It’s important to get a possible ear infection treated appropriately, however, because if the fluid stays in there too long, that’s typically when people experience temporary hearing loss.
Other temporary possible reasons for hearing loss might include a buildup of wax or an injury.
Other reasons for either temporary or long-term hearing loss can include working in a loud environment or spending a lot of time in a loud environment.
As people age, they often start to experience some degree of hearing loss. For example, nearly 1 in 4 Americans who are between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing loss and nearly 1 in 2 Americans older than 75 have hearing loss.
How Should You Start the Process to Get a Hearing Assessment?
Usually, the first step in a hearing assessment is to see your primary family doctor. They can rule out some of the other potential reasons you might be experiencing hearing loss or think that you are, and do a preliminary hearing screening. However, if you feel like you are experiencing issues and your family doctor tells you there’s nothing to be done and it’s just part of aging, you should know that’s not necessarily the case.
Finally, you can ask your family doctor about a recommendation for an audiologist, or you can find your own, perhaps through recommendations from friends or family members. Choose an audiologist who is licensed and certified and someone who offers different brands of hearing aids. An audiologist is a health care professional who has a master’s degree at a minimum.