Your health is our primary concern. Whether you are referred by a physician for a comprehensive hearing evaluation or you come to us to obtain hearing aids, the first thing we do is determine the cause of your hearing difficulties and rule out serious health conditions. Through the use of advanced diagnostic technology, we will thoroughly evaluate your hearing health, explain the results to you, and send a written report to your physician.
An otoscope is what the doctor uses to examine the ear canal and eardrum. A video otoscope allows the patient to see what the doctor sees. We sometimes use a video otoscope to show patients abnormalities inside the ear, such as a hole in the eardrum, inflammation, or infection. We may also use a video otoscope to take a digital picture of the eardrum to share with a surgeon or other physician.
CERUMEN (EAR WAX) REMOVAL
Cerumen, or earwax, serves an important function. But when it gets in the way of hearing or a hearing aid, it becomes necessary to have it removed. We typically use a vacuum system to remove wax from an ear canal. In some cases, it may be necessary to use a softening agent for a few days prior to removal.
Tympanometry measures the flexibility of the eardrum. It is useful in identifying the origin of a hearing loss, diagnosing an ear infection, checking for tympanic perforations, and looking for other middle ear abnormalities.
ACOUSTIC REFLEX TESTING
Acoustic reflex testing checks for a muscle resonse to loud sounds. If properly administered and interpretted, acoustic reflex test results can provide information about the integrity of the auditory nerve, facial nerve, and part of the auditory portion of the brainstem. It can also be used to confirm the type and degree of hearing loss.
Audiometry is what most people think of as a “hearing test”. Earphones are placed on the patient’s head and he/she is asked to press a button any time they hear a beeping sound. A bone ossiclator is also used, which transmits sound directly to the inner ear. The results of this test are used to determine the type and degree of hearing impairment. Results are also used to estimate the degree of communicative impairment and in the development of a prescriptive hearing aid program.
PEDIATRIC VIDEO AUDIOMETRY
Visual reinforcement audiometry is used to test very young children. When small children hear an unusual sound, they instinctively turn their head to find the source of the sound. Traditionally, a small toy is activated to reinforce the child’s head turn. The toy is motivation for the child to turn their head the next time the sound is heard. This is used to determine which sounds the child hears and how loud they need to be before they are heard. The problem though, is that sometimes children get bored of the toy, and they decide their done turning their head, even if they hear the sound. We use a VIDEO reinforcement system, which has a few dozen animations to maintain the child’s attention, as opposed to a single toy. We find that we can obtain more accurate and more thorough test results using a video reinforcement system.
Speech audiometry evaluates the patient’s ability to hear speech at various levels and varying listening situations. Most audiologists test how quietly you understand speech as well as how accurately you can understand speech at a comfortably loud level. We also incorporate listening in noise tests. The QuickSIN is one test we use to quantify a patient’s ability to hear in difficult listening situations. These results can then be used in the selection of hearing aid enhancements and programming.
OTOACOUSTIC EMISSION TESTING
Otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) are the sounds that the inner ear generates in response to auditory stimuli. OAE testing is what is most often used as the infant hearing screening, administered in the hospital shortly after birth. The testing can also be used in children and adults to identify the source of a hearing loss.
AUDITORY BRAINSTEM RESPONSE TESTING
Auditory brainstem response testing (ABR) is used to check the neural pathway between the cochlea of the inner ear and the brainstem. An ABR is often administered if there is suspicion of an auditory nerve lesion or other neural dysfunction. The testing can also be used to identify and confirm hearing loss in infants or people who cannot participate in participatory hearing tests.