Hearing screening with a hearing health nurse

April 19, 2016 by David Tremblay-Deschênes
A hearing screening is a general evaluation. While it does not diagnose problems, it is a fairly accurate way to detect potential hearing loss in people who are at risk of hearing loss or occupational deafness.

Who is at risk?

Anyone exposed to noise higher than 75 decibels (dB)over a continuous period of more than eight hours1 or to impact noise higher than 120 dB is considered to be at risk. Workers are more at risk. Depending on habits and the activities (like listening to loud music with headphones or hunting), anyone can exceed the recommended exposure threshold.

Preparation and preconditions

Patients must observe a hearing rest period of at least 16 hours before a scheduled screening. This helps avoid measuring any temporary hearing loss related to auditory fatigue caused by noise, which could affect the results. Patients also need to report any problem or important information (e.g., otitis, build-up of earwax, previous surgery) that could influence or impair interpretation of the results.

The screening test

Hearing screening can be done directly at the workplace or in a Lobe clinic offering this service. It takes about 30 minutes to meet with the hearing health nurse. During this meeting, the nurse will ask the patient questions to identify possible risk factors and ensure that certain screening test criteria are met.

In the absence of any contraindications, the hearing health nurse will then perform a screening audiometry. Wearing headphones, the patient is instructed to press a button whenever he or she hears a sound. The test evaluates each ear individually for frequencies (hertz) from 250 Hz to 8,000 Hz and different loudness levels (decibels).

At the end of the test, the hearing health nurse tells the patient if he or she has passed or failed the screening. In case of a failure or irregularity, the nurse will recommend the patient see an audiologist for a complete hearing evaluation. If the nurse instead suspects a problem with the ear itself, he or she will recommend the patient see an ENT specialist. In general, we recommend screening every two years for people at risk, and every five years for the general population.

Reference :
  http://www.bruitsociete.ca/fr-ca/thematique_cat.aspx?catid=34&scatid=117. Webpage consulted March 3, 2016.

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