Audiology exams are individual tests used to measure your hearing threshold. Their results are plotted on a chart known as an audiogram, which provides information on your hearing ability at different frequencies and intensities. You may be given any or all of the following audiology exams during your appointment.
- Pure Tone Audiometry. You will be given a pair of headphones to wear, and asked to identify tones played at different frequencies and volume levels. This provides an overview of your hearing range.
- Bone Conduction Test. Similar to the Pure Tone Audiometry test, but instead of headphones a pair of tuning forks are placed behind your ears, sending tones directly to the inner ear. This helps determine whether your hearing loss involves a problem with the outer ear, middle ear or inner ear.
- Word Recognition. You will be asked to repeat a series of one-syllable words delivered at different volume levels and with varying degrees of background noise present. Your score will help determine whether you have trouble with particular sounds and/or listening environments.
- Tympanometry. A probe placed in your ear canal will measure movement of your eardrum in response to changes in air pressure, and is used to detect the presence of fluid in the middle ear, excess earwax, a perforated eardrum, and other abnormalities.
- Acoustic Reflex Test. This test measures contractions of muscles in the middle ear in response to sound, and can be detected during tympanometry or via extratympanic manometry. Abnormal results may indicate nerve injury, lesions such as acoustic neuromas, tumors, etc.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR). Electrodes are attached to your head, scalp and earlobes in order to measure brainwave activity in response to a series of sounds. This gives a good indication of whether your hearing loss is related to damage of the inner ear (sensorineural).
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE). A probe containing a microphone and speaker is placed in your ear canal, and sound is generated. This causes vibrations in the cochlea that should produce sound of their own (otoacoustic emissions). An absence of sound indicates a hearing loss exceeding 25-30 decibels. OAE testing is frequently used in newborn hearing screenings.