A vast majority of hearing loss cases develop gradually over time, making them difficult to detect until they’re advanced. Whether you’re visiting a Littleton hearing loss provider for a hearing health checkup or a specific audiological concern, hearing assessments are usually performed during your first appointment.
Hearing tests don’t just tell your audiologist whether your hearing is normal or impaired—they also reveal the type, frequency, severity and scope of your hearing loss.
Hearing loss affects tens of millions of Americans, but only 1 in 5 people get treatment for their condition in Littleton. Hearing tests are often the only way to diagnose hearing loss in its preliminary stages and are recommended for patients of all ages. Infants, toddlers, school-aged children and adults over 50 should receive hearing assessments annually or biennially, while teens and adults under 50 should test their hearing at least once every five years.
Hearing Assessments at Columbine Hearing Care
At Columbine Hearing Care, we conduct two different types of hearing assessments.
We start with a Basic Hearing Test which takes around 30 minutes. Our Basic Hearing Test includes pure-tone audiometry, speech audiometry, and tympanometry. We recommend this type of testing for individuals who may need a hearing test for baseline measurement.
The second type of hearing assessment we perform is called a Functional Hearing Assessment. This is estimated to be a 60-minute appointment and is designed to be much more in-depth with additional questionnaires and more testing to evaluate hearing performance in background noise. A thorough discussion of treatment options follows.
Functional hearing assessments are recommended for individuals who suspect that they may have some degree of hearing loss and want to start looking for efficient methods to address their communication concerns.
What Happens During Hearing Assessments?
Complete hearing assessments in Littleton include a physical examination, a review of your medical and hearing health history and a battery of hearing tests, each of which reveals something important about your hearing health.
Hearing tests are fast, simple, and painless. The results from your hearing assessment will be charted on an audiogram and explained to you in depth by a hearing loss professional.
What Can Hearing Assessments Reveal?
Hearing tests or hearing assessments are considered to be the first step in addressing your hearing concerns. These diagnostics can reveal a lot about hearing loss, including:
There are seven levels of hearing loss spanning from normal to profound. The severity of your hearing loss is determined based on what sounds you can and cannot hear in quiet and noisy environments.
There are three types of hearing loss based on the part of your ear that’s damaged. Conductive hearing loss is related to the outer or middle ear; sensorineural hearing loss, which accounts for 9 in 10 impairments, describes inner ear problems; and mixed hearing loss is diagnosed in patients with both conductive and sensorineural damage.
Bone conduction testing bypasses the middle ear and stimulates the inner ear directly. The patient’s responses (or lack of responses) to the signals delivered during this test allow the providers to determine the type of hearing loss present.
Hearing loss usually affects a certain range of sounds that are either high or low in pitch. Patients with high-frequency hearing loss, the most common kind, struggle to hear treble sounds like women’s and children’s voices, birds chirping or the ringing sound from a doorbell, alarm clock or phone. Conversely, low-frequency hearing loss results in patients struggling to hear deep sounds like low-pitched men’s voices, thunder or instruments like basses, cellos or tubas.
Pure tone audiometry tests deliver sounds at varying volumes and frequencies and are a helpful tool in assessing what frequencies you can and can’t hear.
Most patients in Littleton have similar hearing abilities in both ears, resulting in what’s called bilateral hearing loss. In some cases, though, hearing loss can develop in one ear and not the other. This is called unilateral hearing loss.
Many hearing tests are administered in each individual ear as well as in both ears simultaneously, allowing your audiologist to assess your hearing abilities on each side and together for a look at your auditory system as a whole.
Hearing is more than just the ability to identify when noise is present; it requires patients to process and understand the sounds entering the auditory system. Some patients hear in the normal decibel level range but struggle to differentiate speech sounds from background noise.
Word and speech tests are commonly used to assess speech reception and word recognition in varying levels of background noise. These can reveal hearing problems in patients whose hearing otherwise tests normally.
Schedule A Hearing Test Today
Getting a hearing test from an audiologist is essential for addressing any hearing issues and maintaining good hearing health.
At Columbine Hearing Care, we perform two different types of hearing assessments. A Basic Hearing Test is a 30-minute visit in which we perform pure tone audiometry, speech audiometry, and tympanometry. This type of testing is appropriate for people who need a hearing test for work, school, or just as a baseline measurement.
The second type of hearing assessment we perform is called a Functional Hearing Assessment. This 60-minute appointment is much more in-depth and includes additional questionnaires, additional testing to evaluate performance in background noise, and a thorough discussion about treatment options. This type of assessment is appropriate for those who suspect that they may have some degree of hearing loss and want to start investigating ways to address their communication concerns.
Either type of appointment can be scheduled using our Online Appointment Scheduler or by calling us at 720-689-7989.
Why would I need a hearing test?
There are several reasons why you would need a hearing test, one of the most common is experiencing loss of hearing or struggling to hear certain sounds. If you ever find yourself constantly asking others to repeat themselves, or if you have trouble picking up certain words or phrases correctly in noisy environments, it may be time to schedule a hearing test.
Visiting an audiologist for a hearing test is necessary because it can help accurately identify the cause, type, and severity of your hearing loss. Hearing tests can also help detect some other underlying conditions that may be contributing to your hearing loss, such as ear wax build-up, ear infections, or injury to the inner ear.
What types of hearing loss are there?
There are three main types of hearing loss: sensorineural, conductive, and mixed.
Sensorineural hearing loss signifies damage to the auditory nerve or inner ear. Exposure to loud noise, aging, certain medications, or medical conditions are the most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss. In most cases, sensorineural hearing loss is irreversible and can be managed with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Conductive hearing loss is the result of a problem located in the outer or middle ear. This can be caused by a variety of issues, such as damage to the eardrum, a blockage in the ear canal, or a problem with the tiny bones in the middle ear.
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. Treatment options for mixed hearing loss may involve a combination of medical, surgical, and hearing aid/cochlear implant interventions.
What are the types of hearing tests included in the Basic Hearing Test?
There are various types of hearing tests designed to evaluate hearing capabilities. Below are some of the most common types of hearing tests:
- Pure-tone audiometry: This is the most common type of hearing test where an audiologist presents a series of tones at different volumes and frequencies to a patient through ear phones or headphones. The patient will indicate whenever they hear the beep or tone by pressing a button or raising their hand.
- Speech audiometry: This hearing test aims to evaluate a patient’s ability to hear and comprehend speech. The patient will be asked to repeat words or sentences presented to them through earphones or headphones at different volume levels.
- Tympanometry: The movement of the eardrum in response to changes in air pressure is tested in tympanometry. A patient will be asked to wear a small earplug that changes air pressure in the ear canal. The device will then measure how the eardrum responds to the pressure changes.
These are just some of the most common types of hearing tests used by audiologists. There are more specific tests available and the use of them will greatly depend on the patient’s symptoms and/or hearing complaints.
Can I test my own hearing?
Trying to test your own hearing by trying online or over-the-counter (OTC) hearing tests is not recommended. These “tests” may not provide accurate results and lead to incorrect self-diagnosis or blind treatment options. If you want to get an accurate hearing test, get a hearing test from an audiology clinic. Audiologists are trained to conduct comprehensive and accurate hearing evaluations using specialized equipment and techniques.