Dr. Mallahan returned once again to the rural communities of Guatemala a few weeks ago in order to provide hearing healthcare to children with hearing loss. This time was a little different. Dr. Mallahan was accompanied by students in the doctoral program at University of Washington, some of whom have completed an externship in our office. The students were able to use their skills to test hearing and help with hearing aid fitting while learning the importance of charitable service. Thanks again to our wonderful patients who donated toys, soccer balls and colored pencils to the children!
Tagged: hearing testing
What Is Tympanometry?
When you see your Audiologist for a hearing evaluation, several tests will be conducted in order to determine where the hearing loss stems from. Tympanometry is a test used to detect problems occurring in the middle ear.
What Happens During Tympanometry?
The first step in Tympanometry is to check that your ear canals are clear of wax or other debris by looking in your ear canal with a tool called an otoscope (oto means ear). The otoscope allows your Audiologist to look closely at your eardrum and the ear canal.
Next, a small, soft ear bud is placed into your ear canal that will change the air pressure in your ear canal and cause the eardrum to move back and forth. A machine will record how well the ear drum moves.
What Do I Need To Do During Tympanometry?
Tympanometry is really very simple. In fact, you don’t need to do a thing! And, even better, it’ll be over in just a matter of minutes. You can help your Audiologist get good results by not speaking, chewing or swallowing during the test. If you do, it’s not a problem but the best results are obtained when there is little to no movement by the person being tested.
What Will I Feel During Testing?
Tympanometry is not uncomfortable and shouldn’t cause any pain. It may feel a little strange to have the soft ear bud in the ear and the change in air pressure is noticeable, but not any more noticeable than an air pressure change in an airplane. You may hear a soft tone in your ear during testing.
Why Is Tympanometry Performed?
Tympanometry tells your Audiologist about the health of the middle ear system. The middle ear is composed of the three smallest bones in the body: the hammer, anvil and stirrup (or maleus, incus and stapes), some very small muscles and the Eustachian tube; the tube that runs from behind the eardrum down the back of the throat. If something is not allowing the bones to move, hearing loss can occur. Tympanometry is performed to rule out middle ear involvement in hearing loss or to determine if further testing by an ear specialist is needed.
What If My Tympanometry Results are Abnormal?
Tympanometry results that are abnormal can mean many different things. Your Audiologist will use the tympanometry results as one part of the puzzle in determining where your hearing loss is stemming from and what the next best step is. If your results are abnormal, don’t worry! Abnormal results simply mean more testing is needed. If you have a concern, talk to your Audiologist about it. She’ll be able to answer any questions you might have.
Do you know that over 32 million Americans suffer from hearing loss? Do you know that only a small percentage of those with hearing loss actually do something about it? The first step is having a hearing test. People often express that they feel intimidated or that they are worried by the thought of having to “take the test.” Having a hearing test is really pretty easy, though. In fact, it’s not a “test” at all. You can’t be “wrong” when you have your hearing checked. You either hear or you don’t. In fact, if you think about it, it’s really your hearing healthcare provider’s test. He or she has to figure out how you are hearing…or not hearing in some cases. All you will need to do is indicate when you are hearing something. Then, leave it up to your provider to figure out what you are hearing and what you aren’t. A hearing test is the first step toward improving your quality of life. And that’s a fact.
There are several other common misconceptions besides the idea that a hearing test is difficult that prevent people from taking that first step and making an appointment for a hearing test.
Myth #1: If I had a hearing loss, my family doctor would have told me.
Fact: Your doctor is concerned about all of the working systems of your body. However, if you happen to be seeing your doctor for a specific ailment, it’s unlikely that your hearing will come up in conversation. It’s also true that most people hear fairly well in a small, well-lit and quiet room. Your doctor may not recognize that you are having difficulty with your hearing. So, in many cases, if the fact that you aren’t hearing well isn’t brought up by you, it’s unlikely that your doctor will recognize that you are having difficulty hearing in other situations (like groups or restaurant situations). If you feel that you are having difficulty hearing, ask your doctor to refer you to a hearing healthcare provider to have your hearing checked. He or she will then report back to your doctor with the findings.
Myth #2: Hearing loss only affects people who work in noisy conditions or those over 65.
Fact: Hearing loss is the most common birth defect. In fact, 3 children in every 1000 born in the US have an “educationally significant” hearing loss. There are many different causes of hearing loss besides prolonged noise exposure and the aging process. Hearing loss can really occur at any age. In fact, according to the Better Hearing Institute, 65% of people with hearing loss are under the age of 65. So, you’re not alone! Hearing loss is a common problem that has many possible solutions. Have your hearing checked today and your hearing healthcare provider will be able to tell you whether or not you have a hearing loss and whether your hearing loss requires some assistance.
Myth #3: My hearing loss is too severe to be treated.
Fact: With the rapid advancement in hearing technology, very few individuals will be unable to find a solution for improving communication. More and more people with severe and profound hearing losses are finding that there is an array of available options for assistance and amplification available today that can be of benefit. Never give up! Hearing is vital to an active and fulfilling lifestyle. Give us a call if you are curious about what’s available. We’ll be glad to help.
The best way to treat your hearing loss or help someone suffering from hearing loss is to take the first step and make an appointment for a hearing test.