Audiometers are special instruments that are used to measure one’s hearing accuracy and monitor hearing disorders or hearing loss. The device was invented by Doctor Harvey Fletcher in the early 20th century. It has been perfected over the years and can now be utilized in a variety of ways.
Once limited to determining the extent of deafness, an audiometer can now be used to conduct a series of tests which can then be computed for the purpose of making a broad assessment of a person’s hearing ability. This series of tests is typically referred to as an audiogram.
The audiometer creates tones at various pitches or frequencies and at numerous intensities. The identical frequency is played for an individual at a lower and lower volume until the person can no longer identify the sound. The test can be completed with or without headphones; however, the latter are typically preferred by most audiologists when the test is conducted.
An audiometer is traditionally made in the form of a stand-alone machine. However, with the many technological advancements with regard to software, digital audiometers are also now manufactured. Those with ongoing hearing loss or chronic ear conditions are often monitored with digital versions of the device.
In most of the developed world, school age children are tested with the device at no charge through various scholastic programs. Such tests are usually administered to first graders. If the results of such testing indicates a child may be hearing-impaired, his or her parents are informed and directed to seek further evaluation from their family doctor or an audiologist.
Audiograms and other tests performed with audiometers will likely continue to be perfected in the future. There are many causes of hearing loss or hearing impairment, but there are also treatments available for such conditions. Therefore, anyone who suspects he or she is suffering from hearing loss should seek the advice of an audiologist.
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