Diagnostic Hearing Test Vs Free Hearing Test

May 12, 2019

At Harmony Hearing we offer a free hearing test. Thus is a screening check for hearing loss. It guides whether further testing is required. We also provide a more diagnostic hearing test. This battery of tests shows the nature of hearing loss. It also indicates the presence of different pathologies.

Free Hearing Test is a Screening Check

It takes 15 to 30 minutes to conduct a basic hearing test or hearing screening check. We perform an otoscopic examination of your ear canals. Then a four frequency headphone test of your hearing in each ear. This check identifies if there is significant hearing loss that warrants further testing. It does not show the impact on communication ability. Or what underlying health conditions are contributing to hearing loss, tinnitus or balance issues. 

 A diagnostic test shows the nature of the hearing loss, helps indicate underlying causes and identifies a suitable treatment plan.

The Diagnostic Hearing Test (Comprehensive)

Your appointment will last 1 to 1.5 hours. This duration gives us enough time to conduct a comprehensive battery of tests. To discuss the results and a potential treatment plan. If hearing aids form part of the treatment, then demonstrations can be provided.

Hearing & Communication Goal Setting 

We like to have a conversation to find out about your hearing concerns and lifestyle communication needs. By writing down some hearing and communication goals we can start developing a rehabilitation program as required. 

General Medical Health History 

We take a general and ear health history.

Outer Ear Check and Otoscopy

A first step is to look at the outside of your ear. We then look inside your ear with an Otoscope. We check your ear canal and ear drum health. If there is wax or debris blocking the ear canals we can remove that for you. We are trained in gentle wax removal. This helps you avoid an unnecessary extra appointment with your doctor to have it removed.

Middle Ear Testing – Tympanometry

Tympanometry tests middle ear mobility or compliance. Just how efficiently it is mechanically moving sound through the middle ear system. It shows ear canal volume and middle ear pressure. The pressure in our middle ear cavity should be the same as the atmosphere around us. Your middle ear includes your ear drum, the middle ear bones, and your eustachian tube. It can reveal abnormalities which indicate and explain a conductive hearing loss.

Pure Tone Audiometry

Headphones are placed to measure the faintest sounds you can hear. The test is performed in a sound proof booth. You press a button every time you hear a sound or tone. The tones start louder and decrease until they are very faint. We aim to measure the very faintest sounds you can hear across the frequency or pitch range. This will tell us whether your hearing is within normal range or if there is hearing loss and botthe type and level of hearing loss. This is performed across the frequency range most valuable for speech understanding. 

hearing test

We then use a Bone Conductor which sends the sound vibration straight to the inner (the cochlea). This enables us to determine what part of the ear is affected and causing hearing loss. 

The results are plotted on a graph called and Audiogram. This shows the normal hearing range and the varying levels of hearing for each pitch of sound.

The Audiogram

The Audiogram shows your hearing sensitivity or thresholds for both ears across the frequency range. It answers the question of whether or not your hearing sensitivity is within the normal range. It also shows the degree to which any hearing loss is outside the normal range. The test will also show any difference in hearing sensitivity between the ears known as asymmetry. 

The Audiogram

The Audiogram together with the other battery of results helps us identify the type of hearing loss, the severity and indicate underlying pathologies.

Speech Testing (Ear & Brain Testing)

People can experience difficulty following speech in competing background noise. This is not routinely tested. We include functional speech in noise tests which simulate real world listening environments. It gives vital information as to your ability to hear and process speech information. Both in quiet and in varying levels of competing noise. 

The test gives us further information on the status of your inner ear and auditory processing ability. It can help diagnose nerve damage/deterioration and is a good indicator of possible benefit from hearing aids. Data recorded from this test enables us to assess the impact that your hearing loss is having on your speech understanding in both quiet and noisy environments. As part of the test battery the functional speech test helps diagnose ear and hearing abnormalities. It is also an excellent tool for assisting us in recommending suitable hearing aids because it allows us to define the sounds in speech you have the most difficulty with. 

How we Test Speech Understanding

Words/Sentences are presented at average conversation levels. You repeat back the words in list or at the end of a sentence. Competing noise is increased which makes the test more challenging.

Explanation of the Results and Recommendations

After the assessment battery is complete we give you a clear and thorough explanation of the results. We use demonstrations and displays on a mounted TV screen.  If required we then discuss possible solutions to help you return to a more normal level of hearing and allow you to engage more fully in your life.

Hearing Aid Benefit Assessment & Demonstration 

If you are a suitable candidate for hearing aids, we will move into discussing the various styles and models available and suitable for your defined hearing loss. We can demonstrate different models and styles in the clinic programming and configuring them to your hearing levels. You can experience how they can sound and feel and it will allow you to begin to understand the benefits they provide.

Go to the Hearing Test Accompanied

We encourage you to bring your partner or significant other to any of your appointments with us. It’s all about communication and making it easier for you and your significant others. A second person to help remember important information. As you re familiar with their voice they can assist in a sentence test that can help you assess hearing aid benefit. 

Aided Vs Un Aided Test

Following the fitting of a hearing instrument we will run the speech discrimination tests again to compare how you are able to perform. By comparing the results between the Un-Aided and Aided speech discrimination test performed under the same conditions we attain a good indication of the aided benefit in terms of improved speech discrimination. 

Why is a Diagnostic Hearing Test So Important?

The quality and comprehensiveness of the hearing test is important and can vary significantly from the “free hearing test”. It is important to see the distinction. The Diagnostic Assessment consists of a group or set of complimenting tests (a test battery) that gains enough information or data to form a more in depth analysis of your ear health, your hearing health and communication ability. It is dangerous to misconstrue the free hearing test which may consist merely be a single test to check of hearing sensitivity across several frequencies. Such a basic check forms an incomplete picture.

Reporting to you Doctor

There’s a protocol for referring to your Physician for further investigation.

Most of the large hearing chain companies intensively advertise the offering of a “free hearting test” to get you in. They have a focus on selling hearing aids to remain highly profitable and make up for their free services with high prices and margins on their hearing aids. After all what trained professional with many years of experience gives away all their time and time for free? 

A Health Focus

At Harmony Hearing we pride ourselves on having more of a health focus. We understand that a diagnostic hearing test forms the foundation of a building a genuine hearing health care solution.  For self-funding clients’ we charge $120 for the 90 minute assessment. Eligible pensioners and veterans can have this service paid for through the Australian Governments Hearing Service Program. There may be private health fund rebates that apply. 

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