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Diagnostic Hearing Evaluations in Children

About 14.2% of American children between the ages of 3 and 18 have some degree of hearing loss. The hearing loss can vary greatly among children and may be due to causes such as exposure to loud iPods.

  • Does your child turn up the volume of the TV very high?
  • Does your child not reply when you call him or her?
  • Does your child have articulation problems or speech/language delays?
  • Does your child complain of earaches, ear pain or head noises?
  • Does your child seem to speak differently from other children his or her age?

If you answered "yes” to any of the above questions, your child may have a hearing problem. Please visit Lexington Hearing and Speech Center to learn more. If you are feeling isolated or overwhelmed, please visit the Lexington Mental Health Center for support.

A diagnostic hearing evaluation is the first step in determining your hearing capability. If you have a hearing loss, it will detail the extent, type, and specifics of your particular hearing loss. The diagnostic hearing evaluation will be performed by an audiologist, usually in his or her office, using equipment called an audiometer.

The diagnostic hearing evaluation consists of a variety of tests to determine the unique aspects of your hearing loss, as well as the level at which you can detect and understand speech. This evaluation can be conducted on people of any age, from newborn infants to seniors.

A diagnostic hearing evaluation may include the following tests.

  • Air conduction testing
  • Bone conduction testing
  • Speech testing
  • Distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAE) testing
  • Auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing
  • Tympanometry or acoustic immittance testing

The diagnostic hearing evaluation is covered by most health insurance policies, though you may need a referral from your primary care physician to quality for coverage.

Why a Diagnostic Hearing Evaluation is Important

Diagnostic hearing evaluations identify hearing loss, and give your audiologist important information to help determine the best course of action for treatment. Some types of hearing loss can be treated medically or surgically, so it's important that these types of hearing losses be ruled out before hearing aids or other treatments are considered.

If it is determined that you could benefit from hearing aids, the diagnostic hearing evaluation helps your audiologist know which hearing aids will be most appropriate for your needs.

What Can I Expect During a Diagnostic Hearing Evaluation?

The evaluation will probably last about 30 to 40 minutes in length. You should also allow for time for discussion with the audiologist to review test results, and ask questions.

If the determination is made that you need hearing aids, allow for sufficient time to discuss your options. It is recommended that you bring a family member with you to the evaluation appointment. Most audiologists agree that hearing loss is a family issue. It helps to have another supportive person at the appointment to help you understand the information and recommendations.

Before your appointment, a complete medical history will be completed and the audiologist will want to hear about any complaints you have about your hearing. He or she will pay special attention to any concerns you have about exposure to noise, tinnitus, and balance problems. Make sure that you take a full list of any medications and supplements you are taking with you to your appointment.

The diagnostic hearing evaluation is a good chance to establish a relationship with your audiologist. It helps to ask around for recommendations to audiologists in your area and find someone who listens carefully to your concerns. Above all, don't be afraid to ask questions. You will want to be clear on any information you receive so that you can be an active participant in finding hearing solutions that work best for you and your lifestyle.