When you arrive for your exam, you will be greeted by the front office staff and asked to fill out several forms, including those that record your personal information, medical history and verify your insurance.
As your exam begins, your hearing care professional will review your personal information with you and will ask you some questions that are designed to discover the specific types of environments in which you may be experiencing some difficulty in hearing.
Next, the hearing care professional may look into your ears by using an otoscope. This instrument is used to see the ear canal and the ear drum and whether or not there is ear wax obstructing the canal. Sometimes the hearing care professional will have a video otoscope so you can see inside your ear as well!
The first test that is conducted is the pure tone hearing test. This is conducted in a quiet environment, sometimes in a soundproof booth. The hearing care professional will place headphones that are connected to an audiometer over your ears. The audiometer transmits a series of tones at a variety of volumes into your ears to determine the exact point or "threshold" at which you can hear various frequencies of sounds. When you hear a sound, you will be asked to say "yes" or raise your hand.
Next is speech testing, when you will listen to a series of one and two syllable words at different volumes and be asked to repeat them. This will determine the level at which you can not only detect, but understand speech. Another test that may be conducted is a speech in noise test. This test will determine how well you hear sentences in a noisy environment.
The results of your tests will be recorded on a form called an audiogram, which the hearing care professional will review with you. The audiogram reflects your hearing loss in frequencies and decibels. You will be shown the type, pattern and degree of hearing loss, as well as the percentage of normal conversational speech that you are still able to hear. Your hearing care professional will then relate these results to your concerns about your hearing. The next step is to consider treatment solutions.
Pure-Tone Air and Bone Conduction Testing
Pure-tone air conduction testing determines the quietest tones that a person can hear at different frequencies, both low and high. Bone conduction testing is similar to pure-tone air conduction testing. A different type of headphone is used during bone conduction testing, and the results help the specialist determine if the hearing loss is originating from the outer/middle ear or from the inner ear.