May 2011



Volume 40, No.5, May 2011 Pages 290-292

Elizabeth Rose

This article forms part of our ‘Tests and results’ series for 2011 which aims to provide information about common tests that general practitioners order regularly. It considers areas such as indications, what to tell the patient, what the test can and cannot tell you, and interpretation of results.

An audiogram is a hearing test conducted under ideal listening conditions in a soundproof booth. The test includes different pitches and intensities and the results are conveyed in graphical form. If there is hearing loss an audiogram helps distinguish conductive loss (outer/middle ear) from sensorineural loss (cochlea/cochlear nerve).

An audiogram is indicated to evaluate any suspected hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo and other ear symptoms. It is also useful for screening for hearing loss in people regularly exposed to loud noises and for certain patients on ototoxic medications (eg. gentamicin). Although there is widespread newborn hearing screening in Australia, an audiological assessment should be performed for any child if there is concern about hearing or speech, developmental delay or difficulties at school. Children with known hearing loss should have regular (at least yearly) hearing evaluations as the hearing loss may be progressive.

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