An Audiologist is a health care professional that specializes in the field of audiology or the science of hearing. They are qualified in evaluating, diagnosing, treating, and managing all forms of hearing loss and equilibrium disorders. Hearing problems affect all age groups, from newborns to the elderly.
Current estimates put the number of Americans with some degree of hearing loss over 35 million. Individuals over the age of 65 account for the majority of those with hearing loss. The healthy ear can detect a wide range of sounds both in pitch (frequency) and loudness.
Common reasons for hearing loss noted by the medical professionals at Medical Training include long-term exposure to loud noise (85db and greater) generated by lawnmowers, airplane engines, industrial machinery, chainsaws, leaf blowers, and recorded or live music. A one-time exposure to very loud sound (120 dB and greater) such as a blast, can induce hearing loss.
Hearing loss diagnosis by An Audiologist Perth is a two-step process involving a hearing screening and full hearing test. The purpose of a hearing screening is to determine if an individual might have some degree of hearing loss. All infants, should have a hearing screening conducted, preferably before going home from the hospital. If an infant fails the screening it is critical that a full hearing test is performed by three months of age.
There are several Hearing Tests that an audiologist may perform to determine hearing loss, the degree of loss, and what type of loss it is. Some of which include:
Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) – Is also called auditory evoked potential or AEP, it provides information regarding the relationship between the cochlea (inner ear) and the brain. As it does not rely on a response by the test subject it can be performed while the patient is asleep – perfect for infants. Electrodes are placed on the patient’s head and brain activity is recorded in response to noise stimulation.
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) – This test is used to measure the inner ear’s response to sound and as it is not dependent on the patient’s response either, the patient may be asleep. When stimulated by sound the outer hair cells vibrate in response, this in turn results in a barely audible sound echoing back to the middle ear. A small probe inserted into the ear canal measure the sound.
Behavioral Audiometry Evaluation – This test is performed to evaluate an individual’s overall response to sound. The test requires the patient to respond to sounds which are recorded by an audiogram that indicates the faintest sound the patient can hear at variable frequencies.Based on the results an audiologist may prescribe hearing aids devices or programmable implant devices.
Hearing loss is categorized in terms of degrees such as mild, moderate, severe, and pronounced and is measured in decibels (dBs). Generally speaking, adults with normal hearing are those with <25 dB hearing loss and <15 dB in children and are capable of hearing most speech in normal listening situations.