March 13, 2020

Hearing screenings versus evaluations


The difference between a hearing screening and a hearing evaluation is important. A screening refers to a single, preliminary test used to determine whether a patient has hearing loss whereas an evaluation is an in-depth series of tests conducted by an audiologist used to measure the type, degree and configuration of the impairment and identify the steps necessary for treatment.

A typical hearing evaluation may consist of any combination of the following tests: pure-tone (air conduction) audiometry, bone conduction testing, speech testing, inner ear testing (Auditory Brainstem Response, Otoacoustic Emissions) and middle ear testing (tympanometry, acoustic reflex).

The type of hearing loss refers to which part of the hearing system has been damaged. Hearing loss is broken down into three basic types: conductive (outer or middle ear), sensorineural (cochlea and inner ear) and mixed (a variety of conductive and sensorineural)—all of which can be treated successfully with various medical or audiological solutions.

The degree of hearing loss refers to its severity. Hearing loss is measured in decibels (dB) and ranges from normal to profound. It is classified as follows:

  • Normal -10 to 15 dB
  • Slight 16 to 25 dB
  • Mild 26 to 40 dB
  • Moderate 41 to 55 dB
  • Moderately severe 56 to 70 dB
  • Severe 71 to 90 dB
  • Profound 91+ dB

Hearing loss configuration refers to the pattern of loss across frequencies, as charted on a patient’s audiogram. An individual whose loss affects the high tones is described as having high-frequency hearing loss; the configuration would show good hearing at lower pitches and poor hearing at higher pitches.

Call Fort HealthCare Audiology at 920-563-6667 to schedule a hearing evaluation or complimentary hearing screening.