Guest Post: 4 Types of Hearing Tests You Should Consider

Our guest post this week comes from HEARING Life Australia and explains the benefits and uses of different types of hearing tests. The intention is to share this with your patients to help simplify the complexities in such a way that anyone can understand.

-Plural Team

 4 Types of Hearing Tests You Should Consider

conversationIf you often find yourself asking your loved ones to repeat themselves, find it difficult to follow conversations, or receive frequent complaints that you talk too loudly, it may be time to book a hearing test at your local hearing clinic.

Hearing tests employ a range of technologies that can determine your level of hearing impairment and whether you need to invest in a hearing aid. But with so many hearing tests available, it’s important to know which one is right for you.

Consider the following types of hearing tests:   

         1. Pure-Tone Testing

This hearing test will reveal the faintest tones a person can hear at various frequencies, from low to high. This test involves an audiometer machine emitting a range of beeps and whistles, called pure tones, with the participant responding to each sound.

When taking the pure-tone test, the participant may be asked to respond to the sounds through raising a finger or hand, pressing a button, or vocally affirming to indicate that a sound was heard.

The results of the test are plotted on an audiogram, a graph that charts the degree and type of hearing loss.

Pure-tone testing is a behavioral measurement that relies on patient reaction, and therefore is best performed on adults and children mature enough to cooperate with the test procedure.

         2. Speech Discrimination Tests

These tests involve an audiologist assessing the participants’ ability to hear speech, with the results also recorded on an audiogram. These tests may involve the participant having to repeat words that are said to them.

Hearing loss that comes with aging generally begins with individuals losing the ability to hear higher frequencies, so that certain speech sounds begin to sound confusingly similar. A speech test can measure the amount of experienced speech distortion.

In order to assess the participants ability to understand speech with background noise, speech testing may be conducted in a quiet or noisy environment. This test is typically used on older children and adults, and may be used to confirm the results of the pure-tone test.

         3. Auditory Brain Stem Response (ABR)

The ABR test provides information about the inner ear (cochlea) and the brain pathways required for hearing. For this test, electrodes are connected to the head in order to monitor the brain’s response to sounds. The participant lays still or even sleeps during the test.

This test can be performed on children, or those that might have difficulty with more typical behavioural methods of hearing loss tests.

         4. Online Hearing Tests

For an initial assessment at home, taking an online hearing test is a great way find out whether someone should seek further professional assistance. While an online hearing test is not intended to replace a hearing assessment with an experienced hearing care professional, it may assist in identifying whether hearing loss is an issue.

In order to undertake an online hearing test at home, it is necessary to have Internet access with the ability to stream sounds, as well as a pair of headphones. Before starting, it is important to check that the computer volume is on and that the surrounding environment is quiet.

Online hearing tests may consist of different components, such as an audio screening which will test the respondents’ ability to hear sounds. An online test may also include questions that require honest answers regarding the person’s hearing ability. These tests will typically generate a score or recommendation that can be used as the starting point to assessing hearing health.


About the Author:

hearinglifeThis post was written by HEARINGLife Australia, one of the world’s leading networks of hearing care professionals. HEARINGLife has provided hearing services to Australians for over 70 years.

HEARINGLife aims to provide sufficient information about hearing loss, hearing aids and hearing tests by providing independent advice and to provide customers with options in a way that is easily understandable. More information can be obtained from HEARINGLife’s website and social media profiles: Google Plus | Facebook  | Twitter

 

Looking Inside the Bionic Ear

shell2Dr. Graeme Clark explains of the bionic ear that the challenge was to put the wire around the inner ear which is only about 2-3 cm in diameter. Dr. Graeme got the idea to curl the wire from shells’ spirals and found that in this way a wire could go around the inner ear if it was bendable and flexible enough. This led them to designing the first prototype from the University of Melbourne; along with the electronics, which had to be reduced to match the size of the silicone tubes.

The bionic ear cochlear implant works by having an outside speech processor with a microphone and an imbedded receiver stimulator which stimulates the hearing. When one speaks the microphone picks up the sound waves, sends them through the speech processor which converts this into patterns of electrical signals which are then sent by radio waves through the skin to the implant. Then the implant stimulates the wires around the inner ear. This is the process by which a deaf person is able to hear. Listen to Dr. Graeme Clark explain this process.

Graeme Clark and Rod Saunders“There were many times during the early stages of my involvement with the bionic ear that I could have given up, but didn’t. In spite of problems, criticisms and difficulties I felt that I just had to go on to explore the possibilities to the very end. Someone had to do it, because it was the only chance that profoundly deaf people could have of being able to hear.” – Professor Graeme Clark AC (http://www.graemeclarkoration.org.au/about-graeme-clark.php)

 

The cochlear implant has evolved significantly due to the persistent innovative work and dedication from various teams and researchers. They have been successfully used since the 1980s.

Just last year, researches at the Tel Aviv University discovered that under certain conditions, bilateral cochlear implants (implants placed in both ears) have the ability to salvage binaural sound processing for the deaf. Learn more about Dr. Henkin’s work.

Feature Article: Technology helps patients with hearing loss thrive

Seilesh BabuBy Seilesh Babu, M.D., Michigan Ear Institute

Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting otology patients whether as a newborn or aging patient. Hearing loss can significantly impact one’s ability to communicate leading to reduced quality of life, isolation, and even depression. Seeking medical help to assist with this hearing loss can be the biggest obstacle for many patients who do not want to acknowledge a hearing issue. However, if the problem is properly managed with hearing aid assistance or surgical therapy, improvement in the patient’s quality of life including anxiety, depression, frustration, and social isolation will be positively impacted.

In our practice at the Michigan Ear Institute, we see thousands of patients annually with hearing loss concerns in all age groups. Some of unilateral hearing loss and many have bilateral hearing loss, ranging from mild to profound. Unilateral hearing loss can be caused by not having an ear canal form (canal atresia) or, from nerve damage of unknown etiology. These patients have several options to improve their hearing such as using CROS hearing aids, bone anchored devices, dental implanted devices, or surgical repair of the poorly formed ear canal in the case of atresia. Many patients have significant improvement in their hearing in various situations using these technologies and surgeries.

Recently, a patient of ours received a scholarship from Cochlear Americas, the global leader in implantable hearing solutions. This scholarship recognizes bone anchored device and cochlear implant recipients who have shown academic accomplishments as well as a commitment to leadership and humanity. Using the technology of hearing devices, patients are able to complete advanced academic pursuits despite having hearing impairment that may have proven to be an obstacle. We are proud to be a part of this successful path for this patient who is currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program.

Hearing technology continues to improve. Advances in hearing aids have occurred with smaller, more powerful processors and noise canceling technology, as well as masking technology that treats tinnitus or ringing in the ear. Middle ear implants provide a surgical treatment option for patients who do not want to wear conventional hearing aids. Cochlear implantation has revolutionized the ability to treat patients with complete hearing loss either as a newborn or for patients in their 80s.

baby_hearing_aidChildren born with complete deafness are able to be treated with a cochlear implant with near normal function from speech and language development to academic performance. Adults with late onset profound hearing loss are also able to obtain a cochlear implant in order to maintain excellent quality of life, independence, and social interactions. Some elderly patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease may in fact be suffering from severe hearing loss that needs to be diagnosed and managed.

In the future, advances in stem cell development and treatments will improve the quality of life of hearing loss sufferers. In addition to these new technologies, it is the collaborative effort of otologists, audiologists, and speech-language pathologists in treating patients with hearing loss that continues to have a positive impact in the lives of these patients every day.