What Is an Audiometer?

An audiometer is a subjective device that is used to evaluate the hearing threshold of a person. An audiologist or other trained personnel uses an audiometer together with special audiometric testing techniques to determine the hearing threshold and to identify as well as quantify the degree of hearing loss of a person. From these results the appropriate referral for medical treatment or possible hearing aid fitting can be prescribed. With the audiometer tones of different frequencies are presented at different levels to the patient’s ear. The hearing threshold is that level at which the person can just hear the stimulus. An audiometer is a subjective testing device, a response from the patient is needed.

What Type of Audiometers Are There?

In audiometric testing a variety of equipment is used to conduct different types of tests. In audiometers we differentiate between screening audiometers, diagnostic audiometers and clinical audiometers. At MAICO we focus on screening and diagnostic audiometers. A screening audiometer is used to identify a potential hearing deficiency. A failed screening would require a referral for a full diagnostic test battery. A diagnostic audiometer would be the first device used in the full diagnostic test battery. It is used to identify and quantify hearing disorders as well as their possible origins and therefore has more functions and flexibility than the screening audiometer.

What Is a Hearing Screening Test?

Hearing screening is the assessment used to identify a potential hearing deficiency. Hearing screening is therefore conducted when a hearing loss is suspected, to isolate possible hearing loss in newborn children, in first year school children, or in industrial hearing screening. Pure tone audiometry is the most common choice to evaluate hearing at a number of set frequencies. With the help of an audiometer, the tester (a doctor, a nurse or a health professional) presents a tone to one or both ears of the patient. The tester increases and decreases the intensity of the stimulus at various frequencies and records the patient’s response. During screening audiometry, tones across the speech spectrum — mostly between 500 and 4000 Hz — are presented. For adults, a hearing threshold of 25 to 35 dB is expected, while children typically lie between 15 and 20 dB. The screening test determines the softest sound the patient can hear and normally starts with the ear which the patient thinks has better hearing.

What Is a Diagnostic Hearing Test?

A diagnostic hearing tests follows if a patient has failed a hearing screening test. The diagnostic hearing test is used to verify a hearing loss, determine the extent, the type and the cause of the hearing loss. The hearing test will usually be performed by an audiologist with the help of a diagnostic audiometer. A diagnostic hearing test can be conducted on people of any age and consists of a variety of tests. The most common test battery consists of: air conduction, bone conduction, speech testing or distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAE) testing. The test results will give the audiologist important information to determine if a referral is required for a further treatment.