Comprehensive Assessment and Evaluation of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss develops at such a slow pace that you probably won’t notice the day-to-day changes that accumulate over an extended period of time.
Consequently, recognizing that you are experiencing a hearing loss can be tough, and making a commitment to seek help can be quite a challenge.
However, the only way to know the truth about your hearing loss is by having a comprehensive hearing assessment by a licensed professional.
An evaluation of your hearing loss will accurately identify the type and severity of your hearing loss and allow our hearing care professionals to work with you to find solutions that fit your unique needs, lifestyle, and personal preferences.
Physicians Hearing Care of East Tennessee can help you identify and understand the impact of your hearing loss on your quality of life and provide solutions to correct your hearing challenges or prevent them from getting worse.
Schedule a Comprehensive Hearing Assessment
Frequently Asked Questions about Hearing Loss and Hearing Tests
Q. Are there different kinds of hearing loss?
Yes. Audiological professionals have identified three different types of hearing loss, which include:
- Conductive hearing loss – a blockage somewhere along the hearing pathway prevents sound from reaching the inner ear.
- Sensorineural hearing loss – sound signals from the inner ear are not properly transmitted to the brain for processing.
- Mixed hearing loss – the individual experiences both a blockage of sound along the hearing pathway and issues related to a failure of the inner ear to properly transmit sound signals to the brain.
Q. What is conductive hearing loss?
With conductive hearing loss, the sensory organs of the inner ear remain intact, so hearing challenges usually involve loudness issues due to the failure of sound waves to penetrate through the obstruction rather than problems with sound clarity. An obstruction in the ear canal may be caused by:
- Narrowing of the ear canal
- Too much earwax or foreign substances in the ear
- Exostoses (bone-like protrusions inside the ear canal)
- Otitis externa (swimmer’s ear)
- Microtia or atresia (congenital deformities)
The cause of an obstruction in the middle ear might include:
- Ruptured tympanic membrane (eardrum)
- Tympanosclerosis (thickening of the tympanic membrane)
- Fluid in the ear or otitis media (ear infection)
- Eustachian tube blockage
- Otosclerosis (affects the stapes bone in the middle ear)
- Abnormal growths or tumors
- Ossicular discontinuity (broken connection between the bones of the middle ear)
Q. What is sensorineural hearing loss?
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of permanent hearing loss that results from damage to the tiny hair-like cells of the inner ear (stereocilia) or the auditory nerves that transfer sound signals to the brain.
Sensorineural hearing loss can be the result of a genetic syndrome or an infection passed from mother to fetus, but the majority of sensorineural hearing loss cases develop later in life (presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss) or from ongoing exposure to loud noise (noise-induced hearing loss or NIHL).
In addition to reduced hearing clarity, characteristics of sensorineural hearing loss can include feelings of unsteadiness or dizziness, tinnitus, and early onset dementia or cognitive decline. Causes of sensorineural hearing loss may include:
- Heart disease and diabetes
- Infections such as mumps
- Meniere’s disease
- Use of ototoxic drugs or medications
- Acoustic neuroma or a cancerous growth in the inner ear
- Concussion or traumatic brain injury
- Autoimmune diseases or thyroid disease
Q. What is mixed hearing loss?
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss in which either sensorineural or conductive hearing loss is already present before the other condition develops. Those experiencing a mixed hearing loss will struggle with clarity and loudness issues related to both types of hearing loss.
The most common circumstances associated with mixed hearing loss include:
- A form of trauma that leads to conductive hearing loss in a person with a sensorineural hearing loss
- Someone already experiencing conductive hearing loss developing a sensorineural hearing loss as they age
- Blast injuries and various traumas, which can cause concurrent sensorineural and conductive hearing loss
Q. Can hearing loss go away without the help of a hearing aid?
Some forms of conductive hearing loss can go away as inflammation decreases, either on its own or thanks to a medical intervention, or when an obstruction in the ear canal either comes out on its own or is removed by a hearing care professional.
Q. How long does a hearing test take?
Most comprehensive hearing assessments take no more than 30 minutes to complete, although the intake process and the discussion of your results at the end of testing can take up additional time.
Q. Which tests are used to diagnose hearing loss?
The diagnosis of hearing loss typically includes a series of tests that may or may not include:
A tympanometry measures the reaction of the eardrum to a subtle pressure change in the ear canal. This test may help identify the presence of fluid behind the eardrum, a ruptured eardrum, or other middle ear issues.
Pure Tone Audiometry
A pure tone audiometry helps determine the type and severity of your hearing loss by establishing your hearing threshold, the lowest level at which you can hear pure tones transmitting through headphones at descending levels from 250 Hz-8000 Hz.
Your speech reception threshold (SRT), the first of two speech audiometry tests, establishes the low-end threshold of speech reception by presenting spondee words (composed of two syllables pronounced with equal stress and effort) in descending levels and measuring your responses.
The second type of speech audiometry is a speech discrimination score, a calculated percentage of the number of phonetically-balanced words you can repeat correctly at a comfortable listening level.
Bone Conduction Test
Bone conduction testing transmits sound signals directly to the inner ear through the surrounding bones by using a special type of headband. By bypassing the normal hearing pathway, we can compare pure tone test results and bone conduction test results to distinguish between sensorineural or conductive type hearing loss.
Your audiologist might decide to conduct additional tests like an otoacoustic emissions test (OAEs), which measures how the nerve cells in the cochlea react to the presence of sounds, or an auditory brainstem response test (ABR), often used with children or others who are unable to complete a typical hearing screening, which helps identify hearing loss issues related to the brain or along a brain pathway.
PHC Tennessee’s Hearing Assessment Process
Your hearing care professional will start your hearing evaluation with a conversation about you.
By discussing your health history, the symptoms you are experiencing, your lifestyle (vocation, social life, hobbies, and activities, etc.), we are able to identify risk factors and causes for your hearing challenges as well as gauge its impact on your lifestyle and quality of life.
Physical Ear Inspection
After intake, we’ll conduct a physical inspection of your ears using an otoscope.
This helps us pinpoint any physical obstructions that could be contributing to your hearing loss, such as accumulated earwax, inflammation, growths, damage to the ear canal, or damage to the eardrum that might block sound from reaching the inner ear.
Once your ears have been inspected for any physical damage, we’ll conduct a series of non-invasive and painless hearing tests to help identify the type of hearing loss you’re experiencing as well as its severity. Tests used during our comprehensive hearing assessment may include:
- Pure Tone Audiometry
- Speech Audiometry
- Bone Conduction Test
- Additional Tests (OAE, ABR, etc.)
Unlike most medical tests, your hearing test results are available as soon as testing is finished, which gives us an opportunity to discuss your results during the same visit as testing.
Your hearing care professional will use your audiogram (printed graph of your results) to show the frequencies and volumes where you are struggling to hear well.
As we review this information with you, we’ll explain what each value means and provide you with solutions to either correct your condition or prevent it from getting worse.
We see ourselves as partners with you on a journey to better hearing, providing you with solutions that meet your unique hearing needs while taking your lifestyle, budget, and personal preferences into account.
Look To Our Professionals for a Comprehensive Hearing Assessment in the Tennessee Location Nearest You
Where can I get an accurate, professional hearing test near me?
Our hearing care centers are staffed with doctors of audiology capable of providing a comprehensive hearing assessment and prescribing treatment to overcome your hearing challenges. Contact our hearing care professionals in:
- Fort Sanders Knoxville, TN
- Park West Tower Knoxville, TN
- Lenoir City, TN
- Morristown, TN
- Loudon, TN
Schedule a Comprehensive Hearing Assessment
Knowing and accepting the truth about your hearing challenges is the first step on your journey to better hearing, but it’s not possible without first committing to an easy, non-invasive hearing evaluation.
Your audiologist at PHC Tennessee will work with you to help identify the source of your hearing loss, its severity, and the best solutions to help you overcome your hearing challenges.
Contact us for a comprehensive hearing assessment by submitting the adjacent form, and a member of our team will answer any questions you might have and/or assist you with scheduling a hearing test.