Since there are many different types of hearing loss, one individual hearing test is unable to diagnose what type of loss you may be experiencing. With the help of your doctor, you'll be scheduled to take a specific diagnostic procedure, which should accurately determine the problem. The results provide your doctor with the information he needs to either resolve the issue so you can regain your hearing, or provide an intervention, which will help strengthen the hearing you currently have. So, what types of hearing tests are available?
An audiogram measures the softest level of noise, which can be heard by an individual. The patient is placed in a soundproof room and given a pair of headphones. A professional audiologist will then present tones at various volumes into each individual ear. He'll record the softest tone, which could be heard.
A tympanometry uses a probe to determine the amount of pressure, which is present on the middle ear. Sometimes a buildup of fluid, middle ear bone problems, or other issues can reduce an individual's hearing. This probe helps the doctor to determine if unusual pressure or other problems are present in the middle ear.
A site of lesion hearing test is performed with typical audiogram equipment plus a variety of other diagnostic procedures in order to determine which part of the ear is causing the loss. For instance, extra testing may be done to compare the amount of hearing loss between letters. Perhaps one has experienced more than the other. Other tests can determine if extra noise contributes to hearing loss in crowded spaces. Some test both ears at the same time to determine if a sentence can be understood through both ears at once.
Peripheral nerve damage is causing the hearing loss. This is where a procedure called the Brainstem Evoked Response Audiometry (abbreviated as BERA) can be used. With computerized equipment, various sounds are played and the brainstem's response is monitored through electrodes. With this procedure, the doctor can determine if hearing loss is sensory (related to the inner ear) or neural (caused by nerve damage). It also helps to consolidate where in the brainstem the problem originates.
Sometimes a patient is dealing with extra noise inside the ear. This condition is called tinnitus, and can very hamper hearing. The frequency of this condition can be measured to determine its intensity.
Since balance is also affected by the inner ear, specialists have developed procedures for individuals who are experiencing balance problems. An electronystagmography (or ENG) measures an individual's eye movement along with stimulating the patient's vestibular system, which is the part that determinates balance. Another balance test is the computerized dynamic posturography (or CDP) which uses a computerized platform to determine an individual's balance.
With so many different options for hearing loss, doctors sometimes have to run several tests to determine how best to help their patient. Other procedures, which scan the ear and look at the nerves and brain response to sound, can be performed along with a hearing test to determine a solution to the problem.