UT Health's board-certified ENT specialists provide complete ear services for all ages. From diagnosis, to medical and surgical treatments, our mission is to provide the highest quality care for all your ENT needs.
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A comprehensive hearing evaluation is a non-invasive hearing test that is performed with an audiologist. Our experienced audiologists will begin by inspecting your eardrums with an otoscope. Next, you will put on a pair of earphones in a soundproof test booth, where you will listen and respond to different frequencies at varying levels of intensity of loudness (decibels). At times, you will be given prompts to raise your hand, push a button or repeat what you heard through the earphones. Your hearing thresholds for each pitch and ear are recorded throughout the test on a graph called an audiogram. This test will determine the severity of hearing loss as well as the type of hearing loss. In addition to this test, your audiologist may recommend further testing to gauge the health of your middle ear and inner ear function.
Tympanometry is a medical test that measures the function, movement and air pressure of the eardrum and middle ear. The results of tympanometry are represented on a graph called a tympanogram. The test is usually quick and painless, unless the eardrum or middle ear are inflamed.
First, the provider will do a visual inspection of your ear canal and eardrum using a lighted otoscope placed in the ear. Then, a probe with a flexible rubber tip will be placed in your ear, which is attached to a tympanometer. The tympanometer causes the air pressure in your ear canal to change as you hear a low-pitched tone. The feeling is similar to the pressure changes felt during takeoff and landing when you’re on a plane. While the pressure is changing, measurements of your eardrum’s movement will be taken and recorded. Tympanometry is used to detect or rule out several things: the presence of fluid in the middle ear, a middle ear infection, a hole in the eardrum (perforation) or Eustachian tube dysfunction. This test is especially important for children who have suspected middle ear problems and it is given to adults as part of a routine hearing test to determine if there are any middle ear problems contributing to hearing loss.
Adults and children who are seeking medical clearance for hearing aids will usually receive a tympanometry test. Fluid behind the eardrum is the most common cause of an abnormal tympanogram because it prevents the eardrum from moving and transmitting sound properly. This condition is nearly always temporary and medically treatable.
The otoacoustic emissions (OAE) test checks part of the inner ear’s response to sound. The test is mostly done on infants and children who may not be able to respond to behavioral hearing tests because of their age.
Otoacoustic emissions are sounds given off by one small part of the cochlea when it is stimulated by soft clicking sounds. When the sound stimulates the cochlea, the outer hair cells vibrate. The vibration produces a nearly inaudible sound that echoes back into the middle ear. Soft foam or rubber tips are placed in your child’s ear. Your child will hear soft sounds through the soft foam or rubber tips. A computer will record quiet echoes from the ear.
Your child will not feel anything during this test and should only take a few minutes.
The results are either present or absent. Present OAEs are consistent with normal to near normal hearing. Absent OAEs may be a sign of a problem. It could be hearing loss, wax in the ears, fluid or infection in the middle ear or a malformed inner ear. This indicates that more testing is needed to find out why the OAEs were absent and to rule out any possible hearing loss. In addition to this test, your audiologist may recommend further testing to gauge the health of your child’s ear and inner ear function.
ABR is the best way to find out if your baby has hearing loss. The test is safe and will not hurt your baby. ABR measures how well the nerve for hearing is working. When the ear hears sounds, the sensors record the response of the nerve through sensors. The results can allow the provider to identify hearing loss, type of hearing loss and possible lesions in the auditory pathway up to the brain. This test can be performed on newborns who cannot respond to sound stimulus and on adults. If the patient is younger than 6 months of age we recommend testing while he or she naps.
When will I get the results of the hearing screening?
You will get the results as soon as the screening is done. The result of the test is a pass or refer.
What does a refer result mean?
A refer result means the patient did not pass the hearing screening, but it does not mean the patient has hearing loss. The patient will need another hearing test to rule out hearing loss.
What does a pass result mean?
A pass result means that the patient is hearing well on the day of the screening. However, it is still important for the patient to have their hearing checked if they have concerns about their hearing, speech, or language development. A child’s hearing can change and it is possible to develop hearing loss later in childhood.
To learn more about audiology services or to schedule an appointment, call 903-747-4098.