Tests to diagnose hearing loss may include:
* Physical exam. Your doctor will look in your ear for possible causes of your hearing loss, such as earwax or inflammation from an infection. Your doctor will also look for any structural causes of your hearing problems.
* General screening tests. Your doctor may use the whisper test, asking you to cover one ear at a time to see how well you hear words spoken at various volumes and how you respond to other sounds. Its accuracy can be limited.
* App-based hearing tests. Mobile apps are available that you can use by yourself on your tablet to screen for moderate hearing loss.
* Tuning fork tests. Tuning forks are two-pronged, metal instruments that produce sounds when struck. Simple tests with tuning forks can help your doctor detect hearing loss. This evaluation may also reveal where in your ear the damage has occurred.
* Audiometer tests. During these more-thorough tests conducted by an audiologist, you wear earphones and hear sounds and words directed to each ear. Each tone is repeated at faint levels to find the quietest sound you can hear.
If you have hearing problems, help is available. Treatment depends on the cause and severity of your hearing loss.
* Removing wax blockage. Earwax blockage is a reversible cause of hearing loss. Your doctor may remove earwax using suction or a small tool with a loop on the end.
* Surgical procedures. Some types of hearing loss can be treated with surgery, including abnormalities of the eardrum or bones of hearing (ossicles). If you’ve had repeated infections with persistent fluid, your doctor may insert small tubes that help your ears drain.
* Hearing aids. If your hearing loss is due to damage to your inner ear, a hearing aid can be helpful. An audiologist can discuss with you the potential benefits of a hearing aid and fit you with a device. Open fit aids are currently the most popular, due to fit and features offered.
* Cochlear implants. If you have more severe hearing loss and gain limited benefit from conventional hearing aids, then a cochlear implant may be an option. Unlike a hearing aid that amplifies sound and directs it into your ear canal, a cochlear implant bypasses damaged or nonworking parts of your inner ear and directly stimulates the hearing nerve. An audiologist, along with a medical doctor who specializes in disorders of the ears, nose and throat (ENT), can discuss the risks and benefits.