At Brits Audiology we believe that every person has the right to hear well, therefor we offer a range of audiology (hearing) tests to ensure that this is the case for each and every one of our clients.

On your first visit to an audiologist, she will start by asking you questions about your medical and hearing history. Next, the audiologist will do an otoscopic evaluation to check for anything in the ear canal that might affect the test results or require referral to your doctor. Finally, the audiologist will conduct a test or series of tests to assess:

  • Whether there is a hearing loss
  • The cause of the hearing loss (to the extent possible)
  • The degree and configuration (one or both ears?) of hearing loss
  • The best treatment options

Pure-tone Testing

Pure-tone Testing

A pure-tone air conduction hearing test determines the faintest tones a person can hear at selected pitches (frequencies), from low to high. During this test, earphones are worn so that information can be obtained for each ear.

Sometimes, use of earphones for the test is not possible, such as when a child refuses to wear them. In these cases, sounds are presented through speakers inside a sound booth (called sound-field testing). Since sound-field testing does not give ear-specific information, a unilateral hearing loss (hearing loss in only one ear) may be missed.

The person taking the test may be asked to respond to the sounds in a variety of ways, such as by:

  • Raising a finger or hand
  • Pressing a button, pointing to the ear where the sound was received
  • Saying "yes" to indicate that the sound was heard
  • The results are recorded in an audiogram.

Sometimes, young children are given a more play-like activity to indicate response. The most common techniques involve visual reinforcement audiometry (VRA) and conditioned play audiometry (CPA).

Speech Testing

The audiologist will also conduct tests of listening and speech. These results are also recorded on the audiogram. One test that the audiologist conducts during a hearing test is the speech reception threshold and speech discrimination testing. This is used with children and adults, and helps to confirm the pure-tone test results.


Tympanometry test done on an young child

Tympanometry assists in the detection of fluid in the middle ear, perforation of the eardrum, or wax blocking the ear canal. Tympanometry pushes air pressure into the ear canal, making the eardrum move back and forth. The test measures the mobility of the eardrum and is rather important test especially for children.

Acoustic reflex measures

Acoustic reflex measures add information about the possible location of the hearing problem. Everyone has an acoustic reflex to sounds. A tiny muscle in the middle ear contracts when a loud sound occurs. The loudness level at which the acoustic reflex occurs—or the absence of the acoustic reflex—gives information to the audiologist about the type of hearing loss.

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)

The auditory brainstem response (ABR) test gives information about the inner ear (cochlea) and brain pathways for hearing. This test is also sometimes referred to as auditory evoked potential (AEP). The test can be used with children or others who have a difficult time with conventional behavioural methods of hearing screening. The ABR is also indicated for a person with signs, symptoms, or complaints suggesting a type of hearing loss in the brain or a brain pathway.

The ABR is performed by pasting electrodes on the head—similar to electrodes placed around the heart when an electrocardiogram is run—and recording brain wave activity in response to sound. The person being tested rests quietly or sleeps while the test is performed. No response is necessary.

Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs)

Otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) are sounds given off by the inner ear when the inner ear (cochlea) is stimulated by a sound. When sound stimulates the cochlea, the outer hair cells vibrate. The vibration produces a nearly inaudible sound that echoes back into the middle ear. The sound can be measured with a small probe inserted into the ear canal.

The primary purpose of otoacoustic emission (OAE) tests is to determine cochlear status, specifically hair cell function. This information can be used to

  1. screen hearing (particularly in neonates, infants, or individuals with developmental disabilities),
  2. partially estimate hearing sensitivity within a limited range,
  3. differentiate between the sensory and neural components of sensorineural hearing loss, and
  4. test for functional (feigned) hearing loss. The information can be obtained from patients who are sleeping or even comatose because no behavioural response is required.

Newborn hearing screening

Newborn hearing screening

Although most babies can hear normally, 1 to 3 of every 1,000 babies are born with some degree of hearing loss. Without newborn hearing screening, it is difficult to detect hearing loss in the first months and years of your baby's life. About half of the children with hearing loss have no risk factors for hearing loss. The above figure increases to about 1 in every 100 babies who have spent more than 48 hours in intensive care.

Newborn hearing screening can detect possible hearing loss in the first days of a baby's life. If a possible hearing loss is found, further tests will be done to confirm the results. When hearing loss is confirmed, treatment and early intervention should start as soon as possible. Early intervention refers to programs and services available to babies and their families that help with hearing loss and learning important communication skills.

If you give birth in a private hospital in Namibia, you may be offered a newborn hearing test for your baby before you are discharged. Ideally, the test is done in the first four to five weeks, but it can be done at up to three months of age. If you are not offered a screening test, contact us for an appointment.

Auditory-Verbal Therapy

Cochlear implant

The foundation of the Auditory-Verbal approach is that, with the use of hearing aids or a cochlear implants, hearing impaired children can learn to listen and understand spoken language in order to communicate through speech.

Parents are the major influence in a child’s life during the preschool period. They are the child’s primary and most effective teachers. Therefore, the Auditory-Verbal approach is a parent-oriented approach. Parents are involved in their child’s therapy, and their Auditory-Verbal therapist teaches them how to teach speech and language to their child at home. Direct parent-child interaction is required through both structured listening sessions and ongoing language work incorporated into daily life. Parents and therapists develop a working partnership. Information and observations from the parents are important in planning the child’s language program.

Please watch this Youtube video to hear what auditory-verbal therapy is all about:


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