How Does an Audiologist Diagnose and Treat Hearing Loss?
A professional audiologist can provide support through various hearing and ear-related issues, but hearing loss is the most common problem by far. In fact, up to 50 million Americans experience hearing deficiencies of some kind, while 30 million are believed to suffer from damage in both ears. So, what does the audiologist do to actively diagnose and treat hearing loss in patients?
Given that every individual has their unique hearing profile, the best audiologists embrace a versatile approach to ensure that each patient receives the very best treatment. Nonetheless, the general process follows a fairly constant flow. Here’s what you can expect from the process.
Diagnosing hearing loss
Before treating any case of hearing loss, the audiologist needs to confirm that your hearing has been damaged. After all, you may have simply encountered temporary loss due to wax blockages or exposure to a loud noise such as an explosion.
The audiologist can usually detect hearing loss within a couple of minutes of conversation, especially when discussing changes that you’ve noticed in daily life. To diagnose the type and severity, though, a number of tests will be used. These include:
- Physical inspections: This is a chance for the audiologist to check for blockages, infections, abnormalities, and various other issues that could be affecting your hearing.
- Pure-tone test: This lets the audiologist examine which range of pitches you can hear. If your struggles usually come from speaking to women and children, high pitch loss may be the reason.
- Speech test: This is an opportunity for the audiologist to test your capabilities of following conversations in quiet situations as well as noisy environments.
- Middle ear test: This lets the audiologist use air pressure in the canal to check the acoustic reflex and vibration of the eardrum. This test includes tympanometry.
- Otoacoustic test: This exam allows the audiologist to examine the sounds emitted by the inner ear when the cochlea is stimulated. It is a test used to narrow down the type of hearing loss.
Other tests may be used depending on the type of loss while the hearing exam is likely to last between 60-90 minutes.
Treating hearing loss
The exact treatment used will depend on the type and severity of hearing loss. If you are experiencing temporary hearing loss, a simple earwax removal or professional cleaning may resolve your symptoms. If your hearing loss is permanent, hearing aids will likely be your best-recommended treatment. These devices come in a variety of styles and sizes, ensuring you can select the best device to meet your specific needs.