What to expect during a hearing evaluation

Comprehensive evaluations show what you hear and don’t hear

A hearing evaluation is a key tool in determining whether you have hearing loss and, if so, how severe it is.

These tests are administered by audiologists at The Austin Diagnostic Clinic — licensed professionals who hold degrees and have special training in hearing sciences.

ADC Audiologist Penny Barron says the tests are important in figuring out how well you are hearing and what treatment options you should consider.

Hearing screens versus evaluations

There is a difference between hearing screens and hearing evaluations.

Audiologists use screenings to determine whether your hearing should be checked. These screens are usually very quick. Those who do not pass the test may need a more detailed hearing evaluation.

Hearing evaluations are comprehensive assessments of your hearing. These tests take time so audiologists can accurately assess how well you hear and then explain what the results mean.

Barron says she uses a variety of tools during the test, which can take up to 45 minutes.

Hearing evaluation steps

Case history

One of the first steps of an evaluation is explaining what’s been going on with your hearing.

“When a patient checks in at the front desk we actually do not have them fill out any paperwork,” Barron said. “We prefer to do the questions and answers one on one. That way we get a better idea of what’s going on.”

Once the audiologist has some background information, the next step is the test.

How well do your ears function?

Barron says the next part of the evaluation involves physically checking your ears.

ADC Audiology uses a video otoscope to look inside your ears. The audiologists then use a tool to check eardrum function.

This is the part of the evaluation where the audiologist can detect earwax buildup and eardrum conditions that can cause hearing loss.

How well do you hear?

Patient in audiology sound booth

Part of the hearing evaluation involves listening to sounds.

Next, Barron says it’s time to check how well you hear. Patients sit in a sound booth located in the office and listen to sounds generated by the computer.

“We see how they hear two different ways,” Barron said. “They will hear some tones and raise their hand when they hear the tone; Repeat some words as they get softer; Repeat some words at a more comfortable level just to see how well they understand; At the end we go through more tones that go through the ear in a slightly different fashion.”

Counseling and treatment options

Finally, Barron says the audiologists talk with the patient about the meaning of the results.

“We talk about what kinds of things they are hearing and not hearing,” she said. “Then we talk about amplification if that is something we need to talk about.”

Depending on the results, the audiologist may recommend a hearing amplification system or refer you to a physician.

The evaluation is conducted through the computer, and the results are sent directly to the patient’s electronic medical record. This way the evaluation results are accessible by your physician.

ADC has two otolaryngologists (ENT’s), who are just across the lobby from ADC Audiology.

“Very often a patient is scheduled to see us and then immediately to see an ENT, because there are several things that we know a patient will need to follow up with an ENT for, and we just go ahead and schedule that at the time they make the appointment,” Barron said.

Patients and the audiologists can also see how your hearing is affected over time.

“It is a really sophisticated system,” Barron said. “It is more streamlined than it used to be.”