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Hearing Loss Testing and Screening

Audiologists at UMass Memorial Medical Center take your hearing seriously. They can assess hearing loss in adults and children using a variety of tests.

Adult Hearing Tests

If you have concerns about hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ear) and/or balance, you may undergo a number of hearing tests. An adult evaluation can include:

  • Pure tone audiometry testing: Determines sensitivity to tones across the frequency (pitch) range of hearing
  • Tympanometry: Detects middle ear problems, such as eardrum perforation and middle ear fluid
  • Speech discrimination testing: Determines the ability to recognize speech clearly
  • Middle ear muscle reflexes: Tests the function of the inner ear, auditory nerve and brainstem, and facial nerve
  • Otoacoustic emissions: Assesses the function of the inner ear

Additional Hearing Tests

The following specialized hearing loss tests are also offered to you and your child:

  • Threshold auditory evoked response testing: This test measures the hearing sensitivity in patients who can’t be screened with the usual tests. The most common age for testing is birth to three years; however, it can also be used to check older patients who can’t complete testing due to cognitive/developmental impairment. We use a combination of tests called auditory brainstem response and auditory steady-state response. The tests are simple, painless and noninvasive, but require the patient to be asleep. Patients older than three months usually require sedation.
  • Neurodiagnostic auditory brainstem response testing: This test screens problems with the acoustic nerve and auditory brainstem. Clicking sounds are played through earphones while the response is recorded.
  • Vestibular evoked myogenic potential testing: This tests one of the balance organs of the inner ear for patients with unexplained dizziness/vertigo or certain types of hearing loss. It requires the patient to turn and hold their head in fixed positions while tones are played through earphones.
  • Auditory processing evaluations: Evaluations are available for patients eight years and older. Individuals with auditory processing disorder have difficulty processing or understanding auditory information, especially when the signal is complex, lengthy, spoken rapidly or in a poor listening environment. Our specialists use a number of tests and provide extensive follow-up recommendations to patients, parents and educators.
  • Newborn hearing tests: Audiology Services oversees the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program, which provides hearing tests at several birth centers in the region, and is a Level One Massachusetts Department of Public Health diagnostic follow-up center.