7 Types of Hearing Tests and Devices
Would it surprise you to know that the third most common health condition is hearing loss? Hearing loss affects 35 million Americans overall and half of all individuals aged 75 and older. Fortunately, advances in healthcare technology enable doctors to detect the cause and effectively treat hearing loss for most people. Here’s a look at the most common types of hearing tests and devices healthcare professions are using today.
If you’re having trouble hearing, don’t fear a visit to the doctor; hearing tests are painless. Three main types of hearing tests detect most types of hearing loss:
Pure Tone Testing. This test measures the softest tones you can hear at both high-pitched and low-pitched frequencies. A series of tones will be played through headphones, and you’ll be asked to signal, by raising a finger or pushing a button, when you hear them.
Speech Reception Threshold. This test is used to confirm the tone test. The audiologist will record the faintest level you can hear and record your understanding of spoken words. You will be asked to repeat the words back to measure word recognition.
Middle Ear Testing. Doctors use three types of tests to evaluate the health of your middle ear structures:
- Tympanometry uses air pressure to look for abnormalities in the eardrum, such as fluid build-up or perforation.
- Acoustic reflex testing measures the function of a tiny muscle in the middle ear to give your doctor insight about the type and location of a hearing problem.
- Acoustic impedance testing identifies a potential perforation of the ear drum.
If your doctor suspects your hearing loss is caused by an abnormality in the brain or nervous system, he or she can order other, more specialized hearing tests, such as an auditory brainstem response test to evaluate the inner ear and hearing pathways in the brain.
Types of Hearing Devices
Today’s hearing aids are tiny and unobtrusive compared to the devices of the past; in many cases, they are virtually invisible. Here are the four most common types:
- Behind the Ear. The electronic components are stored in a tiny plastic case that rests behind or on top of the ear, and a tiny tube connects the earpiece. These are usually worn by children and people with limited dexterity.
- In the Ear. The entire device is contained in a plastic component that fits over the ear canal. These are helpful for people who have trouble handling the tinier devices.
- In the Canal/Completely in the Canal. These tiny devices fit into the ear canal itself and offer cosmetic advantages over other hearing devices, since they are almost impossible to detect.
- Bone-Anchored Hearing Aid. Bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHA) are tiny cochlear conducting devices implanted behind the ear. Patients undergo a one-hour surgical procedure, known as cochlear implant surgery, to place the device and then have annual follow-ups with their physician.
If you are experiencing symptoms of hearing loss, you and your doctor have more treatment and device options than ever before. Why not schedule a consultation with Darius Kohan, M.D., New York City’s leading ear specialist, to discuss your questions and concerns?