Diagnostic evaluations vs. “free testing”

There has been some confusion lately about terminology regarding the testing of hearing. There are often retail-model hearing aid centers. Many are corporate chains with headquarters outside the state, offering “free testing” to hearing aid candidates. Be advised that these tests are strictly screenings to determine candidacy for amplification. Typically hearing levels to tones are tested, often without word-recognition testing. “Customers” are then shown hearing aid options. The term “precision screening” is an amusing contradiction, but has been used in marketing materials. A screening has no precision, by definition. And nothing in depth is a screening.

The aforementioned “free testing” is not to be confused with full-scale diagnostic testing by a Doctor of Audiology, such as patients would encounter at Clear Choice Hearing and Balance and other practices in this region. Typically, Doctors of Audiology have credentials to work with insurance companies and provide evaluations that examine the outer ear, middle ear function, often inner ear hair cell function. Air conduction and bone conduction testing and tests of word understanding are also conducted. One of the less obvious benefits of this type of center is the ability to detect “red flags” for referrals to other medical professionals. Is earwax, an active ear infection, or the fluctuations of conditions such as Meniere’s Disease contributing to today’s results? Does a referral need to be made to a specialist who can diagnose and treat diseases of the ear? And how might conductive vs. sensory losses of hearing affect hearing aid fittings? These are questions we deal with on a daily basis. We are constantly relaying information to referring or primary physicians regarding patients’ ear health.

Please choose wisely when considering diagnostic centers for problems of the ears and hearing. You only get one set of ears! We hope to put you on a clear path to good hearing and health!