Professional Hearing Services

Differences Between Hearing Screening and Hearing Evaluation

Read our guide on the differences between hearing screenings and hearing evaluations.

When you visit an audiologist for the first time, they’ll likely carry out a variety of tests. If you suspect you have hearing loss, then they’ll do everything they can to confirm or deny this. Usually, this involves two different things; a hearing screening and a hearing evaluation. 

Both of these terms refer to completely different processes performed by your audiologist. However, it’s common to see people confuse the two, or assume they both refer to the same thing. So, what’s the difference, and why are they both necessary? 

What is a hearing screening?

A hearing screening will typically come before a hearing evaluation. It’s a straightforward little test that you either pass or fail. The aim is to figure out if you have hearing loss or not. All it consists of is a series of different tones or beeps that play within the ‘normal’ hearing range for someone of your age. If you can hear everything, then you don’t have hearing loss. In which case, there’s no need for a hearing evaluation, and you can go home happy. 

It’s a relatively quick test, but if you don’t hear some of the beeps or sounds, then you likely have hearing loss. Unfortunately, a hearing screening can’t tell your audiologist anything about your hearing loss. All they know is that it exists. This is where a hearing evaluation differs as it provides an audiologist with more context. 

What is a hearing evaluation?

A hearing evaluation is an extensive test to determine the extent of your hearing loss. This is often what people refer to as a hearing test. In actuality, it’s a test that’s composed of lots of little tests. Each one looks at a different part of your ear and tests a different aspect of your hearing. 

The whole aim of a hearing evaluation is to provide your audiologist with a set of results that they can use to figure out what’s wrong with your hearing. Your results will show how bad your hearing loss is, and it can also help them see what type of hearing loss you have. As a consequence, your audiologist can now see what treatments will work best for you to help combat your hearing problem. 

What happens during a hearing evaluation?

For a greater understanding of hearing evaluations – and how they differ from hearing screenings – we need to look at what happens during one. As we mentioned previously, you’ll be put through different tests to examine your ears/hearing. These are the tests you’ll likely undergo: 

  • Pure-tone testing: This test looks at your ability to hear sounds and different pitches and volumes. The aim is to figure out what sounds you can and can’t hear. You’ll wear specially designed headphones that play these sounds through to your ears. When you hear them, you have to raise your hand. 
  • Speech testing: As well as testing your ability to hear tones, your audiologist wants to know how you receive regular conversation sounds. Again, you’re wearing special headphones, but speech is played instead of tones. Here, you’re asked to repeat everything you can hear, and your audiologist measures the accuracy. 
  • Tympanometry: This test will show if you have any blockages in your ear canal, or any fluid build-ups and eardrum perforations. Air pressure is applied to your ear, testing the way your eardrum reacts. Based on the results, your audiologist can determine if any of the problems above exist. 
  • Otoacoustic emissions (OAEs): Sometimes, you’ll need an OAE test as well, which effectively looks at the health of the hair cells in the cochlea. A small device is inserted with a speaker to help stimulate your hair cells. A microphone is also attached to measure the response. This shows how bad your hearing loss is and how much damage there is to your sensory cells. 

Some audiologists carry out additional tests as part of the hearing evaluation, but these are the main ones you’ll most likely have to go through. At the end of your overall hearing test, your audiologist can now tell you exactly what’s wrong and how bad your hearing loss is. 

To summarize everything; a hearing screening is a short pass or fail test that determines if you have hearing loss. A hearing evaluation gives you more details regarding your hearing loss and makes you go through an extensive hearing test. 

Contact Ashland Audiology for more information

If you think you might need a hearing screening or hearing evaluation, then make sure you contact us today. Our audiologists can conduct thorough hearing tests to diagnose hearing loss and provide solutions. Call us on 715-682-9311 to learn more.