Hearing Info

How You Hear

Hearing begins when the outer ear, the visible portion of the ear that is on the outside of the head, channels sound waves down the auditory canal. This tube-like passageway is lined with tiny hairs and small glands that produce ear wax.

The middle ear lies at the end of the auditory canal. It is composed of the eardrum and three small bones, known by the layman as the hammer, the anvil and the stirrup. When sound waves hit the eardrum, it vibrates and, in turn, moves the hammer. The hammer moves the anvil, which moves the stirrup, transmitting the vibrations into the inner ear. The middle ear functions to amplify sound, which is why significant hearing loss can result from any disruption in any of the parts. The inner ear consists of the cochlea and the nerve of hearing. It converts sound waves into nerve impulses that travel to the brain via the movement of tiny hair cells. The brain, in turn, allows us to hear... as long as the message it is receiving is not distorted due to problems in the process just described.

So What Happens During a Hearing Test Anyway?

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. You will also receive a copy of a Notice of Privacy as mandated by law.

As your exam begins, your audiologist 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 audiologist 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 audiologist 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 audiologist 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 audiologist 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 audiologist will then relate these results to your concerns about your hearing. The next step is to consider treatment solutions.

Call today to schedule an appointment for your hearing test!

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