Comprehensive Hearing Tests
Most babies have their hearing screened prior to leaving the hospital. At Glacier Hearing Services, we provide follow up testing for those infants who could not be tested or did not pass the initial screening. We test either otoacoustic emissions (OAE’s) or auditory brainstem response testing (ABR). Both of these tests are appropriate for infants and others who will not respond to a traditional hearing test.
In addition to the methods described under newborn hearing tests, there are special tests used for evaluating children including conditioned play and visual reinforcement audiometry. At Glacier Hearing Services we tailor the evaluation according to the patient age and level of development.
We offer a full range of audiometric testing including basic audiometric testing as well as advanced diagnostic testing such as ENG and ABR testing. Our Comprehensive Hearing Test includes Pure Tone Air, Bone, and Speech testing.
Pure Tone Testing
A pure tone audiogram is what comes to mind for most people when they think of a hearing test. This test typically consists of the patient raising their hand when they hear a sound. Tones of various frequencies (or pitches) are presented to each ear through ear phones. The lowest level at which you respond is your threshold. Threshold is found at several frequencies in each ear.
The same sounds can also be presented through speakers of a bone oscillator. Using speakers allows us to test children who will not wear headphones. The bone oscillator essentially bypasses the outer and middle ear and stimulates the nerve of hearing. This allows us to determine if the hearing loss is conductive (outer or middle ear hearing loss) or sensorineural (nerve loss).
A variety of tests can be conducted using the spoken word. It is helpful to know the softest level at which you can understand speech as well as the percentage of words you get correct at a comfortable level in a quiet or noisy environment.
ABR of Auditory Brainstem Response testing is non-invasive and patient friendly. This test is done to evaluate the efficiency of the auditory nerve and a portion of the brain stem. Both the auditory nerve and the brain stem are responsible for sound transmission to the brain. When evaluating a patient who reports a balance disturbance, tinnitus, or asymmetrical hearing, ABR testing is primarily used for ruling out the presence of a lesion along the auditory nerve.
ENG or Electronystagmography testing is comprised of non-invasive procedures performed to aid the physician in diagnosing the cause of balance disturbances. The balance system is made up of three components: the eyes or visual system, the somatosensory system, and the ears or the vestibular system. If there is a weakness in one or more of these systems dizziness or disequilibrium can occur. The ENG test provides important information about the vestibular and central nervous components.
OAE or Otoacoustic Emmissions testing is simple and painless and requires no patient response, although it does require the patient to be still and quiet. OAE’s are sounds generated within the cochlea that can be measured in the ear canal. The origin of this emission is thought to be the outer hair cells. Special sensitive equipment with advanced filters and a probe inserted into the ear canal can detect the minute OAE’s.