How is hearing assessed?

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Having your hearing tested is the first step towards identifying hearing loss and improving your communication. It is not uncommon to feel slightly apprehensive or nervous about your first appointment. At Hearing Excellence we strive to make you feel relaxed and comfortable, and welcome you to bring along a support person if you would like.

At your first appointment the audiologist will ask you a series of questions. These may include asking about any hearing/communication concerns you may have, any family history of hearing loss, any previous ear health problems requiring treatment or surgery, any exposure to work or recreational noise,  any tinnitus, balance or dizziness problems, facial weakness and also other general health issues.

The initial examination is made up of several tests that assess different parts of the hearing system and help the audiologist discover where there may be a problem and how we can best help you. These may include

  • Otoscopy : The audiologist will look in your ears using a special ear-torch called an “otoscope” to check whether you have any significant wax in the ear canals and if your eardrum looks healthy. Hopefully you will have had your ears cleaned by a specialist ear nurse before attending the clinic.
  • Tympanometry : A simple test to assess how well your eardrum is moving, and whether you have any fluid in your middle ear (the space just behind your eardrum). You don’t need to do anything for this test except remain still and quiet.
  • Acoustic reflexes : Measures the contraction of a tiny tendon in the middle ear (the area just behind the eardrum) that occurs in response to loud sounds. This test shouldn’t cause you any discomfort, however, you should tell the audiologist if the sounds are too loud.
  • Pure-tone audiometry : You will be played a series of tones (or ‘beeps’) in each ear. This helps us to find the softest sounds you can hear, and let us know if you have a hearing loss or not. 
  • Speech audiometry : You will be played a recording of some of words presented at different volumes which you will be asked to repeat back. This will tell us how well you hear speech in each ear.
  • Otoacoustic emissions : A small foam-tipped plug will be placed at the entrance of your ear canal and will play some soft sounds into your ear. This will tell us how well a set of special sensory cells in the hearing nerve are working. You don’t need to do anything for this test except remain still and quiet.