Hearing Assessments

Diagnosing hearing loss

Hearing loss is diagnosed based on the person’s history and behavior, as well as on the results of medical and audiological examinations. Our audiologists at the Charles Van Riper Language, Speech and Hearing Clinic at Western Michigan University use a variety of tools and technologies to measure a person's hearing acuity. Our specialized equipment is used to screen and determine if hearing loss is present in patients from newborn through adult. If a hearing loss is present, the audiologist will recommend corrective and follow-up measures.

Adult Hearing Assessments

Our audiologists offer comprehensive hearing assessments and hearing loss prevention strategies for adults. More than 54 percent of adults over the age of 65 have significant hearing loss. In fact, hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic medical condition in the U.S. A variety of tests can be used to identify and diagnose a hearing loss. The method used depends in part on the age of the individual and other factors.

Pediatric Hearing Assessments

The audiology clinic serves infants and children with suspected or confirmed hearing loss. Infants who fail newborn hearing screenings are tested in our outpatient clinic for in-depth diagnostic testing.

If hearing loss is suspected in a child, early identification and intervention can be critical to that child's development.

Tests to screen for hearing loss

Many different tests are available in our office to identify the nature and degree of hearing loss and to recommend effective measures. Some of the tests we use include:

  • Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) - auditory evoked potential extracted from ongoing electrical activity in the brain and recorded via electrodes placed on the scalp.
  • Otoacoustic emission test - hearing test that measures an acoustic response produced by the inner ear (cochlea), which in essence bounces back out of the ear in response to a sound stimulus. The test is performed by placing a small probe that contains a microphone and speaker into the patient's ear.
  • Acoustic reflex measurements - a measurement of energy or air pressure flow, which involves the ear canal, eardrum, ossicular chain, tensor tympani, stapedius muscle, cochlea, CNs VII and VIII, and the brainstem.
  • Tympanometry - an examination used to test the condition of the middle ear and mobility of the eardrum (tympanic membrane) and the conduction bones by creating variations of air pressure in the ear canal.
  • Cochlear Implant candidacy - Our audiologists will determine if you are a candidate for a cochlear implant by conducting audiologic testing, psychological testing and a medical examination. Candidates are then referred to a surgeon.