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Diagnosis of Hearing Loss

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Diagnosis of Hearing Loss

The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. Tests may be done to rule out underlying causes of hearing loss.

Tests will be done on the ears. These may be:

  • Audiometric tests —listening to tones and words through earphones and reporting whether they are heard
  • Tympanometry —measures pressure in the middle ear and movement of the eardrum
  • Acoustic reflex —measures the response of a small ear muscle that moves when there is a loud sound
  • Static acoustic measures —helps detect a hole in the eardrum or if ear ventilation tubes are open
  • Otoacoustic emissions —detects a blockage or damage in different parts of the ear (often used in infants)

An auditory brainstem response test may be done. This measures the electrical response in the brain to sounds. It is often used in infants.

Images may be taken of the inner ear. This may be done with:


  • Conductive hearing loss. ENT Health—American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: https://www.enthealth.org/conditions/conductive-hearing-loss. Accessed May 10, 2022.
  • Cunningham LL, Tucci DL. Hearing loss in adults. N Engl J Med. 2017;377(25):2465-2473.
  • Hearing loss. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/ear-nose-throat/Pages/Hearing-Loss.aspx. Accessed May 10, 2022.
  • Hearing loss in children: screening and diagnosis of hearing loss. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hearingloss/screening.html. Accessed May 10, 2022.
  • Hearing loss and older adults. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) website. Available at: https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing-loss-older-adults. Accessed May 10, 2022.
  • Presbycusis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/presbycusis. Accessed May 10, 2022.
  • Sudden sensorineural hearing loss. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/sudden-sensorineural-hearing-loss. Accessed May 10, 2022.


  • Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.