Not all hearing tests are the same.
So your doctor, your family and even your friends are telling you that you need to go have a hearing test. You are ready to do it, but you are not sure what the next step is or where you should go to have the test. Here are some important facts about hearing tests:
A hearing test can be a medical diagnostic procedure or it can be an abbreviated test that is done for the purpose of obtaining a hearing aid. It is important that you determine why you need a hearing test to help you decide what you need. If you have symptoms of tinnitus (noise in your head or ear[s]), balance issues or dizziness, a family history of hearing loss, ear pain, sudden hearing loss or hearing loss in only one ear, you should be getting a completed diagnostic audiologic evaluation. Hearing Resource Center in La Cañada can provide this evaluation.
Some places provide free hearing tests. These are usually not medical diagnostic audiologic evaluation but simply screenings for the purpose of obtaining a hearing aid. It is a tool to sell you a hearing aid and usually will not give you information regarding whether you have a serious medical condition.
There are many professionals who can complete a hearing test. They include someone like a nurse in a doctor’s office who does hearing screenings, a hearing aid dispenser who has been trained to do hearing tests to obtain information for providing a hearing aid and an audiologist who is an individual with advanced training in the auditory and balance systems. Audiologists like those at Hearing Resource Center hold either a masters or doctoral degree and will do a complete medical diagnostic evaluation.
All insurances may not cover a hearing test. It is important to look at your benefits and determine if this is a covered benefit. For Medicare patients, it is only covered if it is medically necessary and prescribed by a physician. It is required that you see your primary care physician who can determine if you have symptoms which make the audiologic evaluation medically necessary and to obtain a written prescription for the testing which you bring to the audiologist. Also, some HMO insurance will determine where they send you for the testing.
What does a complete medical diagnostic audiologic evaluation like those at Hearing Resource Center include? It should begin with a complete medical history including verifying current medications, a screening tool for depression and a screening tool for communication problems. Puretone air and bone conduction testing is the part of the test that everyone knows as the push the button or raise your hand when you hear that tone. This is the base of the hearing test and what many people provide for “free.” Additionally, immittance testing, which includes tynpanograms to test ear drum function, acoustic reflex testing to look at the middle ear reflexes, and reflex decay to rule out a tumor or nerve level abnormalities should be included in the testing. Otoacoutic emissions are also important to have done if you have tinnitus, balance issues or problems with speech understanding to rule out serious disorders of the inner ear.
Just like regular eye exams, it is important to have at least a base line audiologic evaluation in your 40s. Anything can happen to affect your hearing and having a baseline helps determine the cause of any change in hearing sensitivity.
Don’t neglect your ears. Find the right provider for your needs and have a complete hearing test done. Hearing Resource Center is nearby at 1407 Foothill Blvd. Ste. 2 in La Cañada and is ready to answer your questions. Call Mary Frintner, Au.D, at Hearing Resource Center at