An audiometry screening can detect hearing loss. A screening checks the functions of the ear canal, eardrum, and the bones and nerves around the ear. Both adults and children can get tested.

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What happens during an audiometry screening?

The exam tests your ability to hear different sounds. The sounds will vary, based on the loudness (or intensity) and the speed of the sound wave vibrations (or tone). Intensity is measured in decibels (loud music is typically 80-120 dB), and tone is measure in Hertz (bass tones are 50-60 Hz).

Your healthcare provider will start by blocking one ear at a time and testing your ability to hear whispers, spoken words and other sounds. They may also use a tuning fork, which can test bone conduction behind your ears. Bone conduction is how sound travels through the bones around your ears.

An audiometry screening uses headphones attached to an audiometer, which delivers tones to one ear at a time. Your provider may use a bone oscillator to test the bones of the ear, too.

What are the types of hearing loss?

There are many causes of hearing loss. Audiometry screenings don’t necessarily determine the cause, but they can help narrow it down. Some conditions may affect test results, including:

  • Acoustic neuroma, a noncancerous tumor on the main nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain
  • Acoustic trauma
  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Alport syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that causes progressive kidney disease and abnormalities of the ears and eyes
  • Work-related hearing loss
  • Ruptured or perforated eardrum
  • Ear infections
  • Labyrinthitis, or inflammation of the inner ear
  • Ménière disease, an inner ear disorder that causes episodes of vertigo (or spinning)
  • Otosclerosis, abnormal bone growth that causes hearing loss

If you are having a hard time hearing or don’t hear as well as you used to, visit your nearest CareNow® urgent care clinic for a screening. You can minimize your wait time with our Web Check-In®.

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