Audiometry – Treatment and Procedure
WHAT IS AUDIOMETRY?
The science of measuring the acuity of hearing especially by measuring variations in sound intensity and pitch is called audiometry. It also tests tonal purity and involves testing thresholds. It is one of the main branches of audiology i.e. the science of hearing, balance and related disorders. Essentially, audiometry conducts an exam to test the ability to hear sounds based on loudness i.e. intensity and vibration i.e. speed of sound waves. The science of hearing dictates that when the vibrations of sound reach the inner ear is when a person can hear. This is when the sound travels through the nerve path to the brain.
Hearing is one the main senses of the human body and a test checking its ability is not only something all must be aware about but also gather as much information about as possible.
At Apollo Spectra, an audiometry is conducted as part of routine health checkups and while the test is performed to determine how well one can hear, let us understand what triggers the need for this procedure:
1. As a part of a routine screening, it may be a good idea to get an audiometry done.
2. When one experiences a significant loss of hearing, an audiometry is mandatory.
3. To check for damage to the ear on account of a single incident of loud noise like a rock concert or a prolonged exposure to loud noises like a factory.
4. To test for hearing loss on account of birth defects, chronic ear infections, hereditary, injury, inner ear diseases or a ruptured ear drum.
5. Hearing loss is the number one non-fatal occupational hazard in today’s time. Occupational health fallouts include hearing loss quite frequently and an audiometry test helps detect these at the early onset.
While the most important thing this test or any test for that matter needs is for you to pay complete attention during the procedure. Along with that, here are a few other things one can do in order to get a fair outcome of the audiometry:
1. Two-three days before the procedure ensure that you have your ears cleaned of wax.
2. A day prior to the test, avoid exposure to any loud noises above the level of say, a vacuum cleaner for more than a couple of minutes.
3. Ensure that you are not suffering from a cold or flu when the procedure is performed.
4. Of course, there is no better preparation than being on time and following your audiologist’s instructions to the tee.
There are various types of audiometry exams, available at Apollo Spectra to test patients and validate if one’s hearing has been compromised.
1. Pure tone audiometry (PTA)
Sounds at varying pitch and frequency is emitted from a device called an audiometer and the patient is to press a button if and when he hears it through his headphones. The test takes around 20 minutes.
A bung seals your ear and gently changes the pressure inside the ear to test the movement of your eardrum and verify if there is any fluid behind the ear drum. It takes about 2 minutes per ear to conduct this test.
3. Tuning fork test
This test examines if one has conductive hearing loss by testing different aspects of hearing using a tuning fork. The fork produces sound waves at a fixed pitch which can be used to test hearing. This test takes about 10 minutes.
4. Test for background noise
This test allows the audiologist to determine the person’s ability to distinguish speech from background noise. It is done by asking the individual to repeat words from the sound sample played.
5. Bone conducive test
It involves holding a vibrating probe against the mastoid bone in the ear to test how well sound travels through the bone. When conducted with a PTA, it helps narrow down if the hearing loss is from the inner ear, outer ear or both. This test takes about 10 minutes.
The procedure of an audiometry test depends on the type of test being conducted. The procedure of each test is mentioned in the previous section.
Results of this procedure are available instantly. Here are a few things one must know about the hearing test results:
1. Results of an audiometry test are displayed on an audiogram. Be sure to ask for one.
2. The intensity of sound is measured in decibels i.e. dB and the tone of sound is measured in cycles per second i.e. cps or Hertz.
3. A healthy ear can hear sounds from around 20 dB (a whisper) to 180 dB (a jet engine). As far as intensity goes, the range for a human ear is 20 to 20,000 Hz.
4. The audiogram will display results in a graph with two lines each representing one ear and symbols X and O again representing each ear. The vertical axis measures sound volume or intensity and the horizontal axis measures sound frequency or pitch.
5. Generally, if there are more markings below 25 dB would mean that there is significant difficulty in hearing, especially in a situation with background noise.
Audiometry is a non-invasive procedure. That in itself means that the risks involved are almost none.
1. If the test is conducted under sedation, especially in the cases of kids, then the side-effects of that must be considered.
2. Ensure that the audiologist is experienced and is using clean and functioning equipment.
The procedure per se does not need recovering from but the results may trigger a set of action depending on the severity of the hearing loss as under:
1. One may be prescribed preventive measures such as wearing ear plugs or they may suggest curative measures like wearing a hearing aid.
2. In children, they may be advised to raise them with a lot of precaution and with a special focus on communication skills if they suspect a hearing loss.
3. In case of infants, it is advisable to get more than one audiometry done.
At Apollo Spectra, we have well trained and qualified audiologists who perform audiometric testing on patients. The test results would be reviewed by your audiologist and based on that result, you shall be advised regarding the preventive measures that you shall be required to take. If need be, neurosurgeons or otolaryngologists may also be involved in on your case, for better treatment advice, depending on your condition.
We ensure that our patient is treated with the utmost care and comfort, because at Apollo Spectra, no procedure is considered as inferior to the other. We treat all our patients equally. With the help of modern equipment and advanced technology available at Apollo Spectra, you receive precise and accurate results.
How long does an audiometry usually last? Is it painful?
Procedures may last anywhere from 35 minutes to an hour. This may extend depending on the questions you have for your audiologist. And no, it is completely painless.
How do I know I suffer from hearing loss?
Sensitivity is the key to the answer. If you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves often or struggle to hear in a crowded, noisy place or have trouble hearing over the phone, chances are that an audiometry may be in the books.
When is a hearing aid required?
When there is a significant loss of hearing, a hearing aid is prescribed which is easily attached to one’s ear and improves overall hearing. It is not associated with further loss of hearing, pain or elaborate procedure. It usually has a lifespan of 6 years.