The difference between a hearing screening and a hearing evaluation is subtle but important.
What is a hearing screening?
A screening refers to a single, preliminary test used to determine whether a patient has a hearing loss. Think of it as a pass/fail exam: if the results indicate a hearing loss, a more detailed evaluation is required.
What is a hearing evaluation?
An evaluation is an in-depth series of tests conducted by an audiologist used to measure the type, degree and configuration of the impairment and identify the steps necessary for treatment. A typical hearing evaluation may consist of any combination of the following tests: pure-tone (air conduction) audiometry, bone conduction testing, speech testing, inner ear testing (Auditory Brainstem Response, Otoacoustic Emissions) and middle ear testing (tympanometry, acoustic reflex).
Why would I need a hearing evaluation over a screening?
During the evaluation, if there is a loss, an audiologist is able to identify the type of hearing loss, and help to create a plan around that specific loss. The type of hearing loss refers to which part of the hearing system has been damaged. Hearing loss is broken down into three basic types: conductive, sensorineural and mixed. Each type has a different course of treatment that is recommended, so it is important to know the distinction.