You may have noticed walking through shop fronts advertising a free hearing check or a quick screen of your hearing at no cost. You may have also noticed some audiology clinics offer comprehensive hearing assessments also known as diagnostic hearing tests.

 So, what is the difference between these two kinds of tests and which one do you need?

Our ears are made up of 3 parts, the outer, middle and inner ear. Each of these structures are vital to the way we hear and a problem in one or more of these areas will result in differing forms of hearing loss; ie permanent or temporary hearing loss.

A hearing screen also known as a free hearing check works on a pass/fail basis. The check normally takes a quick 10-15minutes to administer and is used to determine the status of one’s hearing; that is hearing loss is present or hearing is normal. The test can be administered by both an audiometrist and an audiologist.
A hearing screen/free check does not tell you what kind of hearing loss is present and does not provide information regarding which part of the ear is affected. This is the test recommended for employment purposes- such as for those applying for the police force or working in noisy environments.

A hearing screen is a good way to establish a baseline of your hearing. It is particularly useful for those wanting to know whether they have a hearing loss or not. Should a screen show you do have signs of hearing loss, a comprehensive hearing assessment would be recommended to determine why and where the loss originates.

A diagnostic hearing assessment is a much more comprehensive assessment of your hearing abilities. This test may take anywhere from 45-60 minutes to administer. Children under school age can only have testing administered by a university-trained audiologist. 

A diagnostic hearing assessment includes 5 subset tests (Air conduction, Bone conduction, Speech discrimination testing, Tympanometry, and Immittance testing) in addition to a detailed Q+A session with the audiologist to determine the type of hearing loss present, where the problem is and what can be done about it.

A diagnostic assessment is normally recommended by a medical professional, such as your GP, or Ear Nose Throat specialist, who use the results to better understand the hearing pathways and determine the need for additional assessments. Furthermore, the results may be used to rule out a problem with hearing as a possible cause of other issues, such as poor speech in young children, tinnitus (noise in the ears) or dizziness in adults. You do not require a referral from your medical practitioner to book an appointment for a hearing check or a comprehensive hearing assessment.

The results are discussed at length with audiologists providing recommendations based on each individual result. Recommendations may include consulting with an Ear Nose Throat (ENT) specialist to explore surgery and or medications, hearing rehabilitation to restore hearing clarity, further testing such as auditory processing or to provide ongoing tinnitus management.

A customized report is also written to the referring specialist to inform them of the audiologist’s findings.

If you are unsure of which type of test would be most suitable for you, call and speak with one of our audiologists today.