Exams and Tests
Your doctor will diagnose hearing loss by asking questions about your symptoms and past health and by doing a physical exam. He or she may find during a routine visit that you have some hearing loss.
You will also have a physical exam of the ears . Your doctor will use a lighted instrument (an otoscope) and may find problems in the ear canal, eardrum, and middle ear, including:
- An object or obstruction in the ear canal.
- An infection or fluid in the ear.
- Injury to the ear.
If your exam, history, or symptoms suggest a hearing problem, your doctor may refer you to an audiologist to do hearing tests.
Depending on the suspected cause of hearing loss, you may also have other tests:
- Imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI may be done when an injury or tumor is suspected.
- Auditory brain stem response (ABR) testing may be used to test nerve pathways in the brain if your doctor suspects an acoustic neuroma or another nerve problem. This test measures how well the nerve that helps you hear is working and how fast sound travels along this nerve.
Tests for your child
Some hearing problems can delay your child's speech and language development. Early screening for hearing loss can help prevent many learning, social, and emotional problems that can be related to speech and language development.1 The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all newborns be screened for hearing loss.2 All 50 states require newborn hearing tests for all babies born in hospitals. Talk to your doctor about whether your child has been or should be tested.
Signs of noise-induced hearing loss are appearing at earlier ages and in children. Be sure your child has regular hearing exams.