Your Better Hearing Journey Starts With a
Hearing Assessment

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The journey to better hearing is no different, and the first step is a comprehensive hearing evaluation.

Better hearing is a process that begins with a complete understanding of the hearing challenges you’re experiencing in order to customize a plan of treatment to specifically address your needs.

A comprehensive hearing evaluation provides you and your audiologist with a common point from which to start the journey together. It involves developing the transparent, trusting relationship necessary in order to work together toward a common goal of improved hearing health.

Your initial hearing assessment conducted by a Berkeley Hearing Center doctor of audiology will be the first of many on your lifelong hearing care journey, as we’ll continue to evaluate your progress and the effectiveness of treatment in order to implement new or more advanced hearing strategies to address your changing needs.

Our 70 years of setting the standard in local hearing care has allowed us to refine our process of assessing your hearing as well as the solutions we’re able to provide.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hearing Loss and Hearing Tests

Q. Are there different forms of hearing loss?

A. Yes. There are three different forms of hearing loss, including:

  • Conductive hearing loss
  • Sensorineural hearing loss
  • Mixed hearing loss

Q. What is conductive hearing loss?

A. Conductive hearing loss involves an obstruction along the hearing pathway, but the sensory organs of the inner ear remain intact. Hearing challenges usually include issues with volume. Causes may include:

  • Narrowing of the ear canal
  • Earwax or foreign substances in the ear
  • Exostoses (bone-like protrusions inside the ear canal)
  • Otitis externa (swimmer's ear)
  • Microtia or atresia (congenital deformities)
  • Ruptured tympanic membrane (eardrum)
  • Tympanosclerosis (thickening of the tympanic membrane)
  • Fluid in the ear or otitis media (ear infection)
  • Eustachian tube blockage
  • Otosclerosis (affects the stapes bone in the middle ear)
  • Abnormal growths or tumors
  • Ossicular discontinuity (broken connection between the bones of the middle ear)

Q. What is sensorineural hearing loss?

A. The most common type of permanent hearing loss is sensorineural hearing loss, which typically involves damage to the tiny hair-like cells of the inner ear (stereocilia) or a malfunction of the auditory nerves that transfer sound signals to the brain.

Sensorineural hearing loss can be the result of a genetic syndrome, an infection passed from mother to fetus, or it can develop later in life, such as presbycusis or ongoing exposure to loud noise (noise-induced hearing loss or NIHL). A primary characteristic of sensorineural hearing loss is reduced hearing clarity, but other symptoms can include feelings of unsteadiness or dizziness, tinnitus, and early onset dementia or cognitive decline.

The causes of sensorineural hearing loss may be related to:

  • Heart disease and diabetes
  • Infections like mumps
  • Meniere's disease
  • Use of ototoxic drugs or medications
  • Acoustic neuroma or a cancerous growth in the inner ear
  • Concussion or traumatic brain injury
  • Autoimmune diseases or thyroid disease
  • Frequent exposure to loud noise

Q. What is mixed hearing loss?

A. Those experiencing a mixed hearing loss will struggle with clarity and loudness issues related to both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Mixed hearing loss typically presents within the following set of circumstances:

  • Trauma that causes structural damage to a person with a sensorineural hearing loss
  • A person with a conductive hearing loss developing a sensorineural hearing loss as they get older
  • Blast injuries and other forms of trauma that cause concurrent sensorineural and conductive hearing loss

Q. Can hearing loss go away without a hearing aid?

A. Conductive hearing loss can go away as inflammation decreases or after the removal of an obstruction in the ear canal by a hearing care professional.

Q. How long will my hearing test take?

A. It takes no more than 30 minutes to complete a hearing exam, but the intake process and discussion of your results may take up additional time because of various circumstances.

Q. What are some of the tests used to diagnose hearing loss?

A. A series of tests may or may not be used during a hearing test, such as:

  • Tympanometry, which measures the reaction of the eardrum to a subtle pressure change in the ear canal. It helps identify fluid behind the eardrum, a ruptured eardrum, or other middle ear issues.
  • Pure Tone Audiometry is used to determine the type and severity of your hearing loss by establishing your hearing threshold, which is the lowest level that you can hear pure tones between 250 Hz and 8000 Hz that are transmitted through headphones.
  • Speech Audiometry testing involves two tests: your speech reception threshold (SRT), which includes spoken words transmitted at varying levels and frequencies, and speech discrimination, which records the number of phonetically-balanced words you can repeat correctly at a comfortable listening level.
  • Bone Conduction Tests are conducted by transmitting sound signals directly to the inner ear through the surrounding bones by using a special type of headband. When compared with pure tone test results, it can help us distinguish between sensorineural or conductive type hearing loss.
  • Additional Tests can include otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) tests or auditory brainstem response (ABR) tests that may be used for certain cases.

Berkeley Hearing Center’s Hearing Evaluation Process

Step #1
Step #1

An Initial Conversation

Berkeley Hearing Center’s hearing evaluation process begins with an initial conversation about your occupation, hobbies and interests, and social activities as well as a discussion about your family’s history with hearing loss, your medical history, and how your hearing loss is affecting your daily life. This conversation is essential for understanding possible causes for your hearing loss or your risk for developing a hearing loss as well as customizing your treatment to fit with your lifestyle.

Step #2
Step #2

Physical Assessment of Your Ears

After your initial conversation, your audiologist will do a physical inspection of your ears by using an otoscope. This allows us to identify inflammation, tumors, damage to your eardrum, impacted earwax, and other obstructions inside the ear canal which can cause conductive hearing loss.

Step #3
Step #3

Diagnostic Tests

Our audiologists conduct a series of hearing tests that measure and record the varying levels of your hearing loss by using different techniques and technologies to zero in on your specific type and severity of hearing loss. Diagnostic tests may include tympanometry, pure tone audiometry, speech audiometry, bone conduction testing, otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) testing, and/or auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing.

Step #4
Step #4

Discussion of Your Results

Following the testing portion of your hearing evaluation, your audiologist will show you the printed results of your various tests, discuss what each test means, and explain how the results relate to the hearing challenges you’ve been experiencing.

We’ll discuss your treatment options, if any, and begin to develop a plan of action to meet your specific goals for better hearing. Options may include amplification (e.g., hearing aids), minor surgical procedures, pharmaceutical interventions, hearing protection, or other advanced forms of treatment.

Our objective is to form a hearing care partnership that allows you to make informed choices about the treatment that provides the best fit with your unique circumstances, lifestyle, and budget.

Schedule a Hearing Evaluation

A comprehensive hearing assessment at Berkeley Hearing Center will not only provide you with the truth regarding your hearing challenges—it is also the first step in developing a personalized treatment plan on your journey to better hearing.

Contact us using the adjacent form in order to schedule a hearing evaluation with one of our doctors of audiology.

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