Hearing Loss: Diagnosis
1. ABR or diagnostic auditory brainstem response
This procedure is essentially used to determine hearing sensitivity and to check the neural pathways. The neural pathways are checked in case they are not transmitting the sound properly. In diagnostic auditory brainstem Response, electrodes are placed on head that help to check the electric response of the brain to any sound that is presented to it when the person is sleeping. Adequate care is taken that the presence of the electrodes do not cause any discomfort to the patient. This procedure is non invasive, though it might require hospitalization as auditory response of the brain cells is to be checked while the patient is asleep.
2. Otoacoustic emissions
This test is generally used to diagnose hearing loss in children. In Otoacoustic emissions, sound is played in ear of the child through a small earphone that is connected to the child’s ear. The echo response from the inner ear is measured through a microphone.The results of otoacoustic emissions help the ear specialist determine the root cause of hearing loss in children. The process is non invasive and the child need not be hospitalized for the test.
Functioning of the ear drum and middle ear are checked through tympanometry. An earphone is placed near the ear canal in tympanometry and air pressure is adjusted, as per the requirement.The presence of fluid and infection in the middle ear is checked through tympanometry. Tympanometry is a non invasive procedure and does not require hospitalization.
4. Air conduction test
In this test, a wide variation of test tones varying from low to high pitch are transmitted through earphones. The patient is required to indicate through verbal response on reception of a particular sound. The frequency range in which the impairing is maximum is checked through air conduction test. The procedure is non invasive and the patient does not require hospitalization.
5. Bone conduction test
In this procedure, a bone vibrator is used to determine the quantum of hearing loss. In this test, the outer and middle ear are bypassed, with the sound directly being transmitted to the inner ear. In case the sound is well audible during this test, the problem lies in outer or middle ear. This procedure is also non invasive and the patient is not required to undergo hospitalization.
6. Acoustic immittance
The status of the middle ear is authentically judged through acoustic immittance. The movements of the eardrum are measured through this test by the application of pressure changes. In case, restricted ear drum movement is noticed, the problem could be with eardrum or middle ear structure. Reaction of the middle ear to loud sounds is also tested through acoustic reflex testing, a form of acoustic immittance. The procedure is non invasive and does not require the patient to be hospitalized.
7. Word recognition test
This test is used to test tones apart from checking the ability of the person to discriminate between various words. The patient is asked to listen and repeat words, as told by the doctor. The procedure is non invasive and does not require hospitalization, on part of the patient. In case, the patient shows signs of hearing loss after conduction of the above mentioned tests, the doctor may recommend hospitalization and surgery depending on the severity of the problem. In normal circumstances, however, the patient is advised to take the designated medications and take adequate rest at home.