What is audiometry?
Audiometry is the process of measuring a patient’s hearing acuity. With the use of an audiometer, an audiologist or healthcare professional will be able to determine a person’s hearing ability by playing different sounds (for instance tones or speech) with the aim to diagnose a hearing loss which may have been caused by disease or injury. These results are usually displayed or printed on an audiogram.
Who performs a hearing test?
A hearing test is usually carried out by a specifically trained medical professional like a doctor or nurse, an audiologist or a qualified occupational health professional. These Professionals have an excellent understanding of the biology of the ear, the science of hearing and the knowledge to measure and diagnose a patient’s hearing ability.
Why would a person need a hearing test?
Everyone should take a hearing test at some point in their life. New-born screening tests are conducted as soon as a child is born. This is because treating a hearing loss at an early age helps a child to learn how to speak. As we get older, our hearing ability changes and so it's important that hearing tests are conducted regularly. Hearing tests may also identify other underlying health issues so it's important to check a person’s hearing ability with regular testing and with a qualified audiologists or hearing health professional.
If a person has a sudden loss of hearing ability, a noticeable hearing loss in one or both ears, has a history of ear infections or has recently had surgery to the head, then it is recommended to see a medical professional for a hearing test to check their hearing health is ok.
Common signs of hearing loss – watch video
Why should an employer check their employees hearing?
If a person has been regularly subjected to loud noises within their job role, like a police firearms officer or a factory worker using loud machinery therefore an employee’s hearing should be monitored and checked regularly in order to provide them with appropriate protective equipment. It is also important to assure employees are working correctly and within the appropriate level of hearing ability, that they can hear commands and carry out tasks safely for themselves and their colleagues. An occupational health specialist would perform a hearing test to the determine the hearing ability of an employee. There are several different types of hearing tests used in audiometry and they can all depend on the employee or the industry they work in.
By law within the UK, a person is protected by the Equality Act 2010 which requires an employer to consider reasonable adjustments within the workplace for deaf or hard of hearing employees. There is government funding available to support employers financially called ‘Access to Work’. To find out more, visit gov.uk or visit Action on Hearing Loss charity.
What audiometry products do Amplivox sell?
Amplivox supply a variety of different screening, diagnostic audiometers and tympanometers to suit many professional occupational health hearing test requirements. These industries include (and not limited to) the military, police forces, the NHS, private medical practices, manufacturers and the aviation industry. We are very proud as a company to provide hearing test solutions on a global basis for a wide variety of companies.
View All Amplivox audiometry products
Trust Amplivox – A video for industry professionals
What is the difference between a screening test and a diagnostic test?
A screening hearing test is used to determine if there are signs of a hearing loss, it will record a patient’s reaction to pure tones played. The results of the screening test will then allow the hearing health professional to determine if further examination or tests are required.
A diagnostic test is performed after a failed screening test. It is conducted to find out the whys, hows and the extent of the hearing loss. A diagnostic audiometer is used by the audiologist to assess the hearing ability and provides a full evaluation of the patients hearing ability. It will measure how well the patient hears pure tones and understands speech. The test duration usually takes longer than a screening test in order to assess the entire patient's hearing ability.
What is a tympanometer?
A tympanometer allows a trained hearing health professional or audiologist to measure the function of the middle ear and the pathology of the eardrum, including the condition of the middle ear. It may be a handheld devices’ probe inserted directly into the ear, or a desktop version with a hand-held probe attached via a cable which is then inserted into the ear. The results are displayed on a tympanogram.
Amplivox tympanometers – watch video (otowave family)
Do Amplivox offer any types of accredited training in audiometry to support occupational health professionals?
Amplivox offer accredited audiometry courses which provide guidance and training for healthcare professionals who are conducting hearing screening tests within their practice or workplace. To find out more, visit the Amplivox Audiometry course page.
How long do the audiometry courses take?
Amplivox offer a one-day course designed of occupational health professionals who require general updating of their skills and knowledge. Amplivox also offer a two-day course based on a recommendation syllabus of the British Society of Audiology (BSA), the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) ‘The control of noise at work regulations 2005’ and industry-specific requirements. It provides a high level of competency-based training for delegates who require this level of knowledge and practical skills. Book a course online.
What are the behavioural signs of a hearing loss?
Common signs include difficulty in hearing others speak and misunderstanding conversations, especially when in a noisy environment. Other common behavioural signs include when people ask others to repeat themselves, have the television on too loud or concentrate hard when trying to hear someone else speaking to them. This can all end up being stressful and tiring for the person with the hearing loss, which may make them irritable and frustrated too. If you are concerned you are losing your hearing, or a family member or friend is suffering with hearing loss, it’s important to seek medical help for yourself or advise as soon as possible.
What types of hearing loss are there?
There are many different types of hearing loss. Some may start temporary, for instance if you have been subjected to loud noises in a working environment but might long-term negatively impact the persons hearing. Hearing loss can also be inherited or develop with age. In any case, seeking help from a trained medical practitioner or an occupational health specialist is advised.
Gradual hearing loss: A conductive hearing loss appears when the sound waves traveling through the auditory pathway are not transferred properly due to blockage or other ‘mechanical’ issues such as ear wax, infections, tumours or similar. As the sound waves are prohibited to travel along the pathway correctly, they are not transferred sufficiently to the brain for further signal processing. Conductive hearing losses often can be managed through medical treatment such as prescribed medication or surgery.
Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL): The damage of a sensorineural hearing loss is rooted in the inner ear and can impact the cochlear and associated structures or the cranial nerve. This hearing loss is the most common one and often related to a damage of the outer hair cells in the cochlear. A sensorineural hearing loss will most often be treated with the fitting of hearing systems such as hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Mixed hearing loss: Combination of a conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
Age-related hearing loss (Presbycusis): Some hearing loss may be gradual and happen as we get older or if the person has been exposed to loud noises for many years. With age, a degeneration of the cochlear and associated structure is not uncommon. This age-related sensorineural hearing loss is often referred to as Presbycusis.
Otitus media (Glue ear): Temporary or long-term hearing loss in toddlers and children may be caused by glue ear, which causes pain and ringing in the ears. It is much more common in young children and symptoms include general struggling to hear and speaking louder or quieter than usual. Glue ear should always be checked by a medical professional though it tends to go away on its own. If after three months a child still has symptoms, autoinflation several times a day could help the fluid in the ear to drain away.
Sudden hearing loss: Sometimes hearing loss is a sudden event and in this case, whether an adult or child, it’s vital to seek medical advice promptly whether in one or both ears. Sudden hearing loss could be caused by earwax, a perforated drum or Meniere’s disease, which is a condition when the inner ear causes symptoms of vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and a pressurised feeling. This can make the person feel nauseous and unsteady on their feet. It can happen in clusters or for several weeks over a long time and medication is usually prescribed to control the symptoms and unfortunately there is currently no cure.
Any problems should always be checked out by a qualified medical professional in hearing health or a GP.
How is hearing loss treated?
Hearing loss can sometimes be treated with medication, a simple procedure (like earwax removal with drops or suction), or it may sometimes heal itself. Some cases of hearing loss may need a different type of treatment or a specific device to increase a person’s hearing ability.
Hearing aids are worn on a person’s ear. They are an electronic device which amplifies sound. There are a variety of hearing aids including those worn behind the ear, within the ear or in the ear canal.
If a hearing aid is difficult for a person to wear (allergy or physically can’t fitted), a middle ear implant is an alternative option. The implant is fixed to the skin which will receive the sound. It then turns the sound into an electrical signal. Another device is also placed under the skin which receives this signal. A wire then sends this signal to tiny bones within the ear, causing them to vibrate. The sound then travels to the inner ear and brain. A middle ear implant can’t cure a hearing loss however they can improve hearing function for a person. To find out more about a middle ear implant, visit Hearing Link
A person may also be treated with a bone anchored hearing aid, a device which is attached to the person’s skull. It can be removed easily for activities such as swimming, showering or sleeping. This type of hearing aid is worn for those who cannot receive sounds within the inner ear. A bone anchored hearing aid receives the sound and the sends it to the inner ear by vibrating the bones located near it.
A cochlear implant helps those people who experience severe or permanent hearing loss. It turns sound into electrical signals which is then sent to the cochlea, located in the inner ear. From the cochlea, a signal will then travel to the brain and help the person hear that sound. The implant is made up of two parts, a microphone which is placed behind the ear to receive a sound and a small device implanted inside the skull which receives the signal and sends them via a wire to the cochlea. Before having a cochlea implant fitted, the patient will be assessed to make sure it will work for them as the auditory nerve which sends the signal to the brain must be healthy.
An auditory brain implant is used when hearing loss occurs because there is a problem with the auditory nerve. A signal is sent directly to the brain along wires. It cannot fully restore hearing but will offer a patient improved hearing ability.
An assistive listening device can help hearing ability in everyday situations. It may be a hearing loop, a portable device used in loud environments, a pager or an alerter for doorbells or phones. There are also devices to hear a television better without the need to turn the volume up and smoke alarms which are designed to a person’s hearing ability or a vibration device when alerted.
There are also options to communicate by learning sign language or lip reading.
If you are experiencing any problems with your hearing, please arrange to see your doctor or hearing health professional.