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Hearing Evaluation in Plainsboro, NJ

Located in the Central New Jersey area , Princeton Otolaryngology Associates specializes in audiology. If you live in New Jersey and have wondered whether a hearing aid would be the solution to your hearing disorder, don’t hesitate to pay us a visit and our audiologists, Karen K. Herring, M.S., FAAA and Dr. Rajool Dave, Au. D, FAAA, will carefully examine your hearing problem, find its cause and determine if a hearing aid would be the best treatment for you.

Hearing Evaluation

When you hear the words “hearing evaluation” you may think that you are too young to need one, or that the test is a straightforward single exam. But a hearing test may be very comprehensive, and most people should consider getting one around age 50 to serve as a baseline by which to judge later hearing tests. Of course, if you are experiencing any problems with your hearing at a younger age, you should get this exam done as soon as possible since your hearing problems may increase more rapidly if not treated early. Early detection may slow the progression.

On your first visit, you will fill out the usual general health and background information needed by any audiologist. In addition, there will be questions specifically involving your hearing and any changes you may have noticed. There may be questions about when you noticed problems with your hearing, and if the problems appeared suddenly or have come on more gradually. This second part is particularly challenging since gradual hearing loss may not be noticed at all until it starts interfering with your ability to hear or understand what is being said to you.

A hearing “test” actually includes several tests that measure how well you hear a variety of sounds, such as tones and speech, and are performed in special sound booths or extremely quiet rooms.

Questions may cover:

  • Any family history of hearing loss.
  • Does the loss impact both ears or only one?
  • Did you experience ear infections as a child?
  • Is the problem accompanied by dizziness, vertigo or ringing in the ears?
  • Ear pain.
  • Exposure to chronic loud noise at any period in your life.
  • What medications do you take (since some prescription and OTC medications are known to be harmful to your hearing)?

The Exam

The exam and tests begin with the audiologist using a lighted and magnifying otoscope to visually examine your ear drum and ear canal. The audiologist may also use a video otoscope which displays what they see on a video screen. This exam can reveal punctures to the eardrum, signs of infection in the ear canal or middle ear and even wax blockages – any of which can contribute to hearing loss. If none of these conditions are found or if the results raise more questions, the audiologist will continue with further tests.

Air Conduction Testing

This test will indicate how well your inner and middle ear structures are processing sound. Earphones are used and one ear at a time, you will be asked to identify a tone the first time you hear it by pushing a button or raising a finger. This lets the practitioner assess the softest tones you are able to hear at least 50% of the time. The softest level you can hear indicates your threshold for that particular frequency. The various frequencies you respond to represent the range of sounds you generally hear in normal circumstances. These responses will be used for a graph on an audiogram, and that graph will indicate how well your inner and middle ear are doing in processing sound.

Bone Conduction Testing

This process is similar to the air conduction test, but instead of using headphones, bone conduction testing uses a device that is placed behind your ear. This lets sound actually pass through your skull bone to your inner ear without involving the outer or middle ear, and it assesses your inner ear’s ability to hear. The results will be plotted on the audiogram along with the results of the air conduction, and taken together; the two tests will reveal a more comprehensive picture of your hearing health.

This composite evaluation may show normal hearing or a loss of normal hearing. If there is a loss, the degree (mild, moderate, severe, profound) and the type (conductive, sensory-neural, mixed) will be further refined for an accurate diagnosis.

Speech Testing

The last test uses speech as a way to determine how much and what kind of hearing loss yours may be by correctly evaluating the level at which you can detect speech. First, you will repeat a series of two-syllable words at a level that is comfortable for you. The volume will then be turned successively lower and lower until you can no longer hear it. This will determine the lowest level at which you can hear speech. The second part of the test asks you to repeat one syllable words set at a comfortable listening level to evaluate how well you understand what is being said.

At this point, you may or may not be tested to further determine how well you understand speech. This additional testing may include Speech-in-Noise to see how well you are able to hear in noisy environments; Most Comfortable Listening (MCL) to pinpoint the level at which sound feels just right to you; and Threshold of Discomfort which determines at what point volume becomes uncomfortable for you.

Caring for Your Hearing Health

These comprehensive tests will ultimately determine whether or not you need a hearing aid. If you do, the results will help customize your hearing aid for your individual requirements in multiple listening environments, even the noisiest ones.

As you would in any medical evaluation situation, be your own best advocate. Ask questions and ask for explanations. Our audiologists will take the time to make sure that you understand your condition, needs, and choices.

If you live in New Jersey and have been wondering whether or not you might be a good candidate for a hearing aid, our audiologists, Karen Herring or Dr. Dave, can answer all your questions. Whatever hearing disorder you or a loved one may be facing today, you’re just an appointment away to turn it all around — contact us at Princeton Otolaryngology Associates.