Happy May! And on top of that, happy Better Hearing & Speech Month! Every May, people around the country join together to help spread the word about hearing loss and speech disorders. Founded in 1927 by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), this month-long celebration has been going strong for more than 90 years.
The goal of Better Hearing & Speech Month is to encourage people to take action if they believe there might be a problem with their hearing or speech. So, what do you do if you think you may have hearing loss?
Have you been missing parts of conversations lately? What about feeling like people are starting to mumble? Do you decline invitations to social gatherings in lieu of staying home alone? If so, you may have the beginning stages of hearing loss.
The first step in the process toward better hearing is to contact your Reno audiologist and schedule an appointment. Once there, they will perform a series of tests to determine your type and degree of hearing loss. This information is crucial when determining the perfect treatment plan for you.
Below are the most common tests your Reno audiologist may use to test your hearing.
Pure Tone Testing
This type of test, also known as pure tone audiometry, uses air conduction to measure your ability to hear sounds at various pitches and volumes. You will be asked to wear headphones and sit in a specially designed booth. A series of sounds will be broadcast through the headphones. Every time you hear a tone you will be instructed to raise your hand or press a button. The results will then be charted on an audiogram.
Bone Conduction Testing
This is another type of pure-tone test that measures your inner ear’s response to sound. A conductor will be placed behind your ear; it will send tiny vibrations through the bone directly to the inner ear. This is different than the traditional version, which uses air to send audible sounds. If the results of this test are different from those in the pure-tone audiometry test, your Reno audiologist can use this information to determine your type of hearing loss.
This type of testing is used to measure your speech reception threshold (SRT), or the faintest speech you can understand 50 percent of the time. It is administered in either a quiet or noisy environment and measures your ability to separate speech from background noise.
This test measures the movement of your eardrum in response to air pressure. It can determine if there is excess fluid, wax buildup, eardrum perforations or tumors.
Acoustic Reflex Testing
This test measures involuntary muscle contractions of the middle ear and is used to determine the location of your hearing problem (the ossicles, cochlea, auditory nerve, etc.) as well as the type of hearing loss.
Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)
This type of testing is used to determine whether a specific type of hearing loss—sensorineural—exists. It is also frequently used to screen newborns for hearing problems. In an ABR test, electrodes are attached to your head, scalp or earlobes, and you are given headphones to wear. Your brainwave activity is measured in response to sounds of varying intensities.
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs)
OAEs are sounds generated by the vibrations of the hair cells in the cochlea of your inner ear. This type of testing uses a tiny probe fitted with a microphone and speaker to stimulate the cochlea and measure its response. Individuals with normal hearing will produce emissions; when hearing loss exceeds 25-30 decibels, no sound will be produced. This test helps determine whether there is a blockage in the ear canal, excess fluid in the middle ear or damage to the hair cells of the cochlea. OAE testing is often included in newborn hearing screening programs.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact your Reno audiologist today.