ZN Audiology: Diagnosing Different Levels Of Hearing Loss

Offering Audiologist Services To NYC

If you or someone you know might have a hearing loss, you are not alone. More than 5% of the world's population – or 466 million people – has disabling hearing loss. But did you know that even a small degree of hearing loss can dramatically interfere with one’s ability to enjoy life? That’s because hearing loss isn’t “all or nothing” - and different levels of hearing loss can impact us, and our loved ones, in powerful ways.

That’s where we come in. Our NY audiology practice is focused on helping people hear better. We've seen firsthand the toll hearing loss can take on people and their families. As a result, we are committed to doing right by our patients, and our #1 goal is to help them overcome those challenges so they can enjoy more complete and satisfying lives. Through our professional and advanced Audiological Evaluations, we will determine the nature and severity of your hearing loss - which helps us design a treatment plan to address your specific needs.

FAQs on Audiological Evaluations:

I've Heard Of Hearing Screenings, But What Are Audiological Evaluations?

Audiological Evaluations are the preferred method for diagnosing levels of hearing loss.

Although a hearing screening can alert you to potential hearing problems, a full hearing evaluation performed by a licensed provider is needed to fully understand and address hearing loss effectively. This is because hearing screenings are basic "pass or fail" tests that quickly determine if your hearing levels are normal. You've probably had one of these tests as a student or during a PCP visit. While these screenings can raise a red flag on some problems, they'll never help your doctor determine the type or degree of hearing loss you’re living with.

That's where the audiological evaluation comes in. Also known as a hearing evaluation or hearing exam, this comprehensive examination is performed by a licensed audiologist or hearing instrument specialist. It includes a review of your case history, several in-depth tests, and a comparison of your results to normal, age-appropriate hearing levels. The results of the tests will determine whether your hearing loss is a result of problems in the outer ear, middle ear, inner ear, or a combination. It will also give your provider insight into what your best treatment plan will be.

 

Are There Different Types Of Hearing Loss?

Yes! Proper audiological testing is also helpful in diagnosing specific types of hearing loss, which may include: 

  • Conductive (which occurs when sound waves cannot travel normally through the ear)

  • Sensorineural (which is caused by damage to the inner ear or the nerve from the ear to the brain)

  • Mixed (which is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss)

Audiological exams will also help your doctor decide what treatment to move forward with - medical treatment, hearing aids, bone-anchored hearing systems, or cochlear implants.

 

How Will I Know If I Have Hearing Loss?

Often, years will go by before you actually realize you have hearing loss. Since the changes happen slowly, most people won't notice them for a long time. Chances are that if you suspect you might have hearing loss, you probably do - especially if you've noticed one or more of the following:

  • Turning the TV up louder to hear it

  • Struggling to understand people on the phone

  • Having to ask others to repeat themselves often

  • Complaints from friends or family members

  • Avoiding social situations

  • Laughing at jokes to try to cover that you can't understand them

 

What Kinds Of Tests Do These Exams Include?

The specific tests performed during your evaluation will depend on your age and what is known already about your hearing issues. With that in mind, here are some of the tests that may be needed during an audiological evaluation:

  • Air conduction: A test where you listen to various tones through headphones and report on which ones you do - and don't - hear.  

  • Pure tone bone conduction: A test where a small vibrator behind the ear sends tones directly to the hearing organs of the inner ear. This is used to help your doctor determine if your problems are coming from the outer/middle ear or from the inner ear. 

  • Tympanometry: This test assesses the middle ear specifically, i.e. the eardrum and three small connecting bones.

  • Otoacoustic emissions: This test evaluates the functioning - or lack therefore - of the outer hair cells in the inner ear. 

  • Sentence-in-noise (SIN) test: This test evaluates your ability to understand conversational speech in noisy environments. It’s especially helpful in deciding whether or not hearing aids in noisy situations might be needed to improve your quality of life.

  • Speech reception: A test to help determine the faintest level at which you can understand spoken words.

  • Stapedial reflexes and reflex decay: This test evaluates the auditory nerve's ability to transmit hearing signals to the brain. Blockages or damage along this pathway indicate the need for further medical consultation.

 

Can Hearing Loss Happen Suddenly?

Sometimes hearing loss is severe and rapid. If you notice your hearing deteriorating quickly, we encourage you to get it tested as soon as possible. Potential causes for sudden hearing loss can be due to illness or severe stress.

 

I Still Have Questions!

That’s fine! We’ll be glad to answer them during your next visit or by phone. Never hesitate to ask your audiologist for clarification or further information on anything you do not understand about your ears and hearing!