Hearing loss occurs in a variety of people, and for many different reasons. Problems in the middle ear, however, often cause hearing changes in children aged 3 to 5. Fortunately, there are specific tests designed to diagnose middle ear problems. This then gives hearing professionals an idea of where to start with treatment.

Three parts of the ear

While the
human ear is made up of many small components, it has three main parts. These
include the outer, middle, and inner ear. All three sections play a role in
hearing, but each one is unique. Sound first enters the ear through the outer
ear via the ear lobe and auditory canal. Small bones in the middle ear,
known as ossicles, receive the sound waves and vibrate. These vibrations are
turned into nerve impulses in the inner ear and sent to the brain for
processing.

Types of middle ear testing

Hearing
loss can occur as a result of problems in any ear part, but there are specific
tests designed to determine how well the middle ear is functioning. These
include tympanometry,
acoustic reflex
measures
, and static acoustic
impedance
.

  • Tympanometry – This test measures the movement of the eardrum.
    A small probe is inserted into the ear, and a small amount of air is pushed
    through it. The air flow is mapped on a graph, helping an audiologist know
    whether the eardrum moves too much, too little, too stiffly, or if it is perforated.
  • Acoustic reflex measures – In a normal ear, a
    tiny muscle in the ear reflexively constricts when exposed to loud sounds. The
    strength of the reflex indicates whether or not there is any hearing loss. A
    small probe introduces sound into the ear, and the reflex is measured by
    another device. Generally, the stronger the reflex, the better the hearing.
  • Static acoustic impedance – This test measures air
    flow through the ear canal. It indicates whether or not there is a blockage
    that is preventing proper flow, or if there is fluid behind the eardrum. For
    those individuals who have had tubes placed in their ears to prevent ear
    infections, this test can determine whether or not the tubes are blocked.

How to choose the best middle ear test

All of
these tests can be administered by a hearing professional, such as an audiologist.
She will determine which test is most appropriate, based on the individual
patient and the symptoms presented. If you experience any kind of hearing
changes, it’s important to schedule a
hearing test
as soon as possible. Many causes of hearing loss can be
treated, and permanent hearing damage can often be prevented.

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Source: Hear Well-Live Well Blog

Middle Ear Testing – What you need to know was last modified: February 27th, 2019 by joey