One of the diagnostic procedures Harbor Audiology offers is tympanometry testing. In this article, we will tell you what tympanometry testing is, how Harbor Audiology does it, and what it can uncover about the causes of hearing loss.
What is Tympanometry Testing?
One of the best ways to explain what tympanometry testing is focused on what it measures: Tympanometry measures how much your tympanic membrane (or eardrum) moves when it is exposed to sound.
The tympanogram can tell your audiologist if you have a middle ear infection, also known as otitis media. It can confirm obstructions, including earwax, in your ear canal as well.
But a tympanogram is not a hearing test. It’s about measuring the transfer of energy generated by sound across your eardrum. Your audiologist can use this information to infer the cause of hearing loss, whether it is in the structure of the ear or in the cranial nerve that sends electrical impulses your ear generates in response to sound to your auditory brainstem.
How is the Test Performed?
After examining your ears to make sure you don’t have a hole or a tear in your eardrum, your audiologist puts a small probe (it looks a little like an earphone) into both of your ears. The audiologist triggers a pump that sends a puff of air into your ears. Your audiologist then sees a graph on a monitor called a tympanogram. The tympanogram tells your audiologist whether your tympanic membrane vibrates as expected, is too stiff and doesn’t vibrate as much as expected or moves too freely.
There is nothing, in particular, you have to do during a tympanometry test other than to sit quietly. You can’t talk, sing, hum, whistle, or chew gum. Your audiologist may give you advice about sneezing, coughing, swallowing, or taking a deep breath. But tympanometry is a simple, safe, painless test for patients of all ages.
When is a Tympanometry Test Needed?
Your audiologist will do a tympanometry test to diagnose or rule out several things:
- Whether you have fluid in your middle ear.
- Whether you have otitis media, a middle ear infection.
- Whether you have a problem with your Eustachian tubes, which equalize air pressure on both sides of your eardrums.
Because tympanometry can confirm a diagnosis of a middle ear infection, it is very important for treating hearing problems in children. But it is also used to detect middle ear inflammation or infection in adults.
Tympanometry is an important part of getting medical clearance for hearing aids. If there is fluid behind the eardrum, the tympanogram will be abnormal. Conditions that cause fluid behind the eardrum are common and usually easy to treat, but they have to be resolved before your audiologist can prescribe the most effective hearing aid for you.
Sometimes tympanometry reveals that you don’t need hearing aids at all. In some cases, you just need to correct the cause of fluid buildup in your middle ear.
What You Can Expect When Your Audiologist Does Tympanometry?
There are four things Harbor Audiology wants all of our patients to know about tympanometry:
- Tympanometry doesn’t hurt. It is a painless procedure.
- Your Harbor Audiology hearing specialist gets a great deal of information from this test.
- If you are experiencing pain in your ears, tympanometry may identify the cause.
- At Harbor Audiology, we perform this test after inspecting your ears with an otoscope to make sure you don’t have a punctured or perforated eardrum, and with other tests for a complete picture of your hearing health.
Tympanometry alone doesn’t yield any absolute answers about the causes of hearing problems. Your audiologist will interpret the results of tympanometry with other simple, painless tests done in our offices, taking your age, health history, gender, and genetics into consideration. But tympanometry easily adds valuable information to your hearing exam that helps Harbor Audiology find exactly the hearing correction you need.
Schedule an Appointment with Harbor Audiology Today
The hearing specialists at Harbor Audiology can provide you with the hearing care you need to achieve the best hearing possible. We can help you choose the best of the most advanced hearing aids.
Harbor Audiology is experienced in filing for VA benefits, and we work with all major insurance plans. We are open most evenings and Saturdays. Harbor Audiology has offices in Tacoma, Port Angeles, Gig Harbor, Silverdale, Sequim, and Bainbridge Island. Request your appointment at your local Harbor Audiology office online today!