Speech audiometry is an essential tool to assess hearing loss. It is usually performed for the assessment/examination of the following:
- Intensity and type of hearing loss
- Word recognition abilities
- Discomfort or tolerance to any speech stimuli
Speech audiometry also determines the maximum output of sound-amplifying devices.
What is speech audiometry?
A speech audiometry tests your ability to hear sounds. Mainly, two factors affect the sound:
- Intensity (based on their loudness)
- Speed of sound wave vibrations (tone)
Usually, the hearing occurs when sound waves stimulate the nerves of the inner ear. The sound then travels along nerve pathways to the brain.
The intensity of sound is measured in decibels (dB):
- A whisper is about 20 dB.
- Loud music (concerts) is around 80-120 dB.
- A jet engine is about 140-180 dB.
Listening to sound above 85 dB for a few hours can cause hearing loss. You may also feel pain after listening to louder sounds for a few hours.
The tone of the sound is measured in cycles per second or Hertz:
- Low bass tones range from 50 to 60 Hz.
- Shrill, high-pitched tones range about 10,000 Hz or higher.
A human can hear the sound in the range of 20-20,000 Hz only.
Speech audiometry includes two different tests:
- The first test determines how loud the speech needs to be for you to hear it.
- The other test checks your ability to grasp and distinguish different words as you listen to them.
What happens during a speech audiometry?
During speech audiometry, you need to sit in a sound booth and wear a headphone. The subsequent procedure is described below:
- After placing a headphone, you will hear a recording of a list of common words spoken at varying loudness. Simultaneously, you have to repeat those words.
- Next, the audiologist will determine your speech reception threshold or the lowest volume at which you can hear and recognize speech by making you repeat a list of words.
- Finally, the audiologist will measure your word recognition ability. They will tell you to repeat a few words after them or make you listen to a recording for you to repeat those words. This helps the audiologist to measure your ability to understand speech at a comfortable listening level.
How to interpret the test results of speech audiometry?
Normal results include the ability to hear the complete speech. For most patients with normal hearing, speech is the most comfortable at 40-50 dB above the speech reception threshold. This sensation level is reduced for many patients. The following conditions may affect test results:
- Acoustic neuroma (a benign tumor on the main nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain)
- Acoustic trauma from a very loud or intense blast sound
- Age-related hearing loss
- Alport syndrome (an inherited form of kidney inflammation characterized by kidney disease, hearing loss, and eye abnormalities)
- Chronic ear infections
- Labyrinthitis (inflammation of the part of the inner ear or labyrinth)
- Ménière’s disease (an inner ear disorder that causes vertigo)
- Ongoing exposure to loud noise, such as at work or from music
- Otosclerosis (abnormal bone growth in the middle ear)
- A ruptured or perforated eardrum
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Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include:
- ANED: Alive no evidence of disease. The patient arrived in the ER alive with no evidence of disease.
- ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure
- cap: Capsule.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea.
- DJD: Degenerative joint disease. Another term for osteoarthritis.
- DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- HA: Headache
- IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease. A name for two disorders of the gastrointestinal (BI) tract, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- JT: Joint
- N/V: Nausea or vomiting.
- p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os.
- q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily.
- RA: Rheumatoid arthritis
- SOB: Shortness of breath.
- T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
Hearing LossHearing loss (deafness) may be present at birth or it may manifest later in life. Deafness may be genetic or due to damage from noise. Treatment of deafness depends upon its cause. Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by conditions affecting the cochlea, eighth cranial nerve, spinal cord, or brain. Examples of conditions that can lead to sensorineural hearing loss include Meniere's disease, noise-induced hearing loss, hearing loss of aging (presbycusis), nerve injury from syphilis, hearing loss of unknown cause (idiopathic hearing loss), nerve tumors, and drug toxicity (such as aspirin and aminoglycosides).
Detecting Hearing Loss in ChildrenThere are many degrees of hearing, from normal hearing to deafness. Many states mandate the testing of newborns before leaving the hospital. The risk factors for hearing loss in children include
- a family history of hearing loss,
- frequent ear infections,
- diagnosis of a learning disability,
- syndromes associated with hearing loss,
- speech delay, and
- infectious diseases that cause hearing loss.
- the child not responding to his or her name,
- the child asking for words to be repeated, and
- the child not paying attention to what is being said.
Hearing Loss: Causes of Hearing LossProblems with your ears like ear infections can cause signs of hearing loss. This may be sensorineural hearing loss or conductive hearing loss. Learn how loud noises can induce hearing loss, the signs of hearing loss, and different ways you can prevent hearing problems.
Hearing Losss QuizCan hearing loss be reversed? Take this quiz to find out!
How Is a Pure Tone Audiometry Test Done?An audiometry test is done to evaluate your hearing capacity. It may be done in patients with deafness to determine the cause and degree of hearing loss. The test is generally advised by an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeon and performed by an audiologist. The test uses different pitches of sound to measure how sensitive your sense of hearing is.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss and Its PreventionNoise-induced hearing loss may be an acoustic trauma, which causes temporary hearing loss, or it may be permanent due to an acute acoustic trauma. Experts agree that continual exposure to more than 85 dBs (decibels) is dangerous to the ears. Ear plugs and ear muffs can help prevent noise-induced hearing loss as well as decreasing exposure to loud noises.
What is the purpose of impedance audiometry?The main purpose of impedance audiometry is to check the status of the tympanic membrane and middle ear. It checks how well the vibrations get transmitted from the tympanic membrane (eardrum) further into the ear.