Comprehensive Hearing Consultations

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Comprehensive Hearing Consultations Lead to Personalized Care

According to the World Health Organization, hearing loss is the third most common physical health condition in the US. 1 in 8 Americans experience some form of hearing loss, a number expected to double over the next 30 years. Although most individuals make regular dental check-ups, eye exams, blood pressure checks, and annual physicals a high priority, they tend to put off hearing tests.

Millions of people continue to go about their daily routine with an undiagnosed hearing loss that continues to deteriorate because they are unaware of the slow development of hearing loss. A comprehensive hearing consultation provides critical information about the severity of your hearing loss while serving as a gateway to receiving the appropriate treatment for your unique condition.

What Tests Are Included in a Comprehensive Hearing Consultation?

There are various types of tests used to evaluate your hearing. Each of these non-invasive tests plays a specific role in identifying the cause and proper solution to target your specific condition.

Pure-Tone Testing

Pure-tone testing, what many call the “hearing test,” uses an audiometer and headphones to transmit sounds through your outer and middle ear. It records the quietest sound you can hear at different pitches or frequencies on an audiogram, which plots the specific hearing thresholds for each ear as well as your overall hearing thresholds.

Bone Conduction Testing

A different type of headset, known as a bone vibrator, is used for bone conduction testing. This headset bypasses the outer and middle ear, transmitting sounds directly to the inner ear. Bypassing the conductive elements of the hearing pathway allows your audiologist to identify your specific type of hearing loss. Essentially, sounds heard better using bone conduction indicate conductive hearing loss while sounds heard at equal levels using both pure-tone and bone conduction tests indicate sensorineural hearing loss.

Speech Recognition Testing

Because verbal communication through speech is integral to daily living, testing your hearing needs to go beyond your capacity to hear tones. In order to evaluate your ability to discriminate between spoken words at various frequencies and volumes, your audiologist will also conduct speech recognition testing. By adding different environmental conditions and background noises from silent to extremely loud during speech testing, we are able to further clarify your hearing thresholds in real-world application.

Acoustic Reflex or Tympanometry Testing

Your eardrum (tympanic membrane), along with other middle ear structures, has a crucial role in conducting sound to the inner ear for further processing. Issues related to these middle ear structures are identified using tympanometry, which measures the movement of the eardrum in response to transmitted sounds.

Additional Tests

Certain unique cases require additional tests to better identify the cause of your hearing loss. Your audiologist might call for an Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) test to assess the function of the cochlea. With normal or near-normal hearing, OAEs are present, but their absence is an indicator of cochlear issues. 

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What Will Happen During Your Hearing Consultation?


You might be avoiding a hearing test because you don’t know exactly what is going to happen. Rest assured knowing that hearing tests are non-intrusive, quick, and easy. They take about 30 minutes to complete and you receive instant results upon completion. Your hearing consultation includes four parts.

South Sound Audiology office

Initial Consultation

Besides our interest in getting to know our patients, your initial consultation with your audiologist will provide a foundation for diagnosing and treating your condition. Our conversation will include questions related to your family history, medications you take, your occupation, hobbies, and common activities you enjoy. I will respond to your questions and concerns about your hearing and what you expect to gain from better hearing. All of the understanding obtained during this conversation helps inform me of various environmental, genetic, medical, and lifestyle activities contributing to your condition. It is helpful to bring along someone who is well acquainted with your condition to fill in details you might forget.

Physical Examination of Your Ears

I will transition from the conversation to a physical examination of your ears using an otoscope, which is a magnifying glass with a tapered tip and a tiny light at the tip. With the otoscope, I can see if there is any inflammation caused by an infection and identify growths or tumors in the ear canal. These obstructions as well as wax, bugs, and other foreign objects can reduce the capacity of your ears to conduct sound to the middle and inner ear.

Audiologist inspecting ear using an ear otoscope
Audiology equipment and hearing test area of South Sound Audiology Lacey

Diagnostic Tests

After the physical examination of your ears, we’ll move on to the diagnostic tests already discussed. I will seat you in a soundproof booth or room and fit you with a set of headphones to start the first of the series of tests, including:

  • Pure-tone test
  • Bone conduction test
  • Speech recognition test
  • Acoustic-reflex test

If necessary, I will call for further testing to further isolate the cause of your hearing impairment or hearing loss.

Discussion of Results

Unlike many diagnostic tests, you don’t have to wait for the results. We will be able to discuss them with you as soon as testing is finished. During this time, you will learn the type and extent of your hearing loss as well as the solutions available for treating your condition. Although hearing aids are among the treatment options, medications, minor outpatient procedures, tinnitus management, changes to your prescription medications, and/or a referral to another specialist for a different type of treatment are all possible solutions to address your hearing challenges.

Because we focus on personalizing your hearing care, I value your input throughout our discussion. This allows us to establish a cooperative hearing care approach that meets not only your hearing needs but also addresses your personal preferences and lifestyle concerns. If I do not identify any substantial permanent hearing loss, but your lifestyle, hobbies, or occupation might include significant risks when it comes to hearing damage, I will recommend lifestyle changes, better hearing protection, or provide you with information to help prevent future damage.

Julie VanAusdal sitting at her desk

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A comprehensive hearing consultation is your first vital step toward regaining the independent and rewarding lifestyle you are missing due to hearing loss. An open and honest discussion about your hearing issues with a professional audiologist enhances the accuracy of the diagnosis and greater precision when it comes to treatment. If you or a loved one is struggling with hearing, your best solution is to schedule a comprehensive hearing consultation to find out why.