The Hearing Test & Communication Assessment

Hearing Test

If you feel that you would like to have your hearing tested, you can call us on 01494 733840 to make an appointment, with or without a medical referral.   The Hearing Aid Suitability Assessment is £60 and will take approximately 60 minutes.   

Pre-Appointment Questionnaire & The Initial Consultation

Before your appointment, if time allows, we will invite you to complete a short questionnaire to help us ascertain the areas of concern, in order for us to help you most effectively.  The initial consultation will involve our audiologist taking a short aural medical history and then examine your ears and auditory canals.  Following the visual examination, we proceed to the hearing test.

The Hearing Test – Air Conduction (ac)

The hearing test element of the assessment is carried out in a sound-treated booth.    We test the ears individually using an air conduction method via headphones whereby we play a series of pure or warbled tones directly into the outer ear.  A number of different frequencies (pitch) are presented at different intensities (volumes).  The aim of this test is to establish the very quietest tone you can hear at each frequencies (Hz) which range from 250Hz (low) up to 8000Hz (high).    The quietest tone heard by each ear is recorded on an audiogram chart at each frequency range.  These results are known as air conduction (ac) as the sound is heard via air vibration through the ear canals.

You can see an example and explanation of the audiogram chart in The Audiogram Explained.

The Bone Conduction Test (bc)

The next stage of the consultation is the bone conduction test.    A small sound producing unit is placed behind the ear, and then sounds are presented via the mastoid bone to the inner ear directly – bypassing the ear canal.  Tones are conducted at varying intensity levels and mid-range frequencies (500Hz to 4000Hz), until the quietest tone is established.

Both test results will show any similarities or differences between the two testing methods and allow us to establish if the hearing problems are sensorineural (in the inner ear – an electrical problem), conductive (middle ear – a mechanical problem) or a combination of both.  For further explanation of these results, go to Types of Hearing Loss section.

Results and Appropriate Action

On successful completion of the test we will explain the results and discuss the options available to you.  If the results highlight a need for medical referral we will complete a report that will be sent to your GP and / or ENT consultant for further investigation.   The results of the hearing test will provide us with enough information to provide accurate, tailored advice on the options available to you.  In some cases it may be advisable to undertake a Communication Assessment, which is a more in-depth assessment of your hearing ability in more every day situations.  Please note that there is a charge for the Communication Assessment of between £50 and £60 depending upon elements undertaken.

Communication Assessment

Before undertaking the communication assessment, a thorough hearing test is completed, including medical history.  Beyond the hearing test, the communication assessment includes the following, as appropriate to each individual:-

Video Otoscopy

Video otoscopy allows us to take you on a tour of your own ear canals.  The ear canal and ear drum often indicate the history of your ear health and we can learn a great deal from looking at the ear in detail, with you, and linking it to your reported medical history.  We are also able to capture images to store on your notes for future comparison and reference.

Tympanometry 

Tympanometry is the measurement of middle ear function.  This is a very good method of testing the effectiveness of your middle ear function, including your ear drum (tympanic membrane), the small bones in the middle ear (ossicles) and the eustachian tube (which links your middle ear to your nose and throat).  The results of this assessment can be used to explain a sudden change in hearing or a fluctuating hearing loss and will affect how your hearing is managed, going forward.

Speech Audiometry

The initial hearing test we carry out to ascertain your hearing level uses a pure tone.  This is very helpful in measuring the sensitivity of your hearing but this does not give us an indication of how well you can hear speech and conversation.  For this reason we carry out a variety of speech audiometry, which tests your ability to hear speech increasingly challenging environments, which is a much more useful indication to help us assist you with your true hearing challenges.

Processing Ability Assessment

Hearing is not all about the ear.  The vast majority of our listening ability takes place in the brain.  For this reason it is sometimes useful to ascertain your sound processing ability.  As we age, our ability to process information slows and this has a direct effect on hearing success.  If we are able to establish your individual speed of processing we are able to advice appropriately on how best to manage your hearing now and into the future.