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Uses of Audiometers

9/19/2012 7:43:49 AM | by Anonymous

Audiometers

As their name would suggest, audiometers are devices that have their use related to audio and are used for evaluating the acuity of hearing. These instruments are standard in ear, nose, and throat (ENT) clinics as well as in audiology centers. Such places use these devices to identify, monitor and test for hearing disorders, with the devices having set standard for calibration. Usually, these devices are equipped with an embedded hardware unit that is connected to a pair of headphones and the test subject feedback button which can also be controlled by a standard PC. Doctors or specialists who use these instruments commonly conduct several tests and then compile the data on a chart called audiogram for further investigation. Audiometers can be calibrated to attain accurate test results.

 

During the test in a clinic, the patient is presented by the audiometer with tones at different frequencies or pitches at different levels of loudness. This test is repeated with the same frequency that is presented at different levels of loudness until the patient no longer responds to the sound. Although the patient might stop responding, the test is still continued in the same manner with frequencies being present at different levels of loudness until a consistent assessment of hearing is made. In most cases, headphones are used by the patient to listen to test sounds so as to decrease the levels of external disturbance noises and attain more accurate results of the patients hearing ability.

 

Audiometers that can be calibrated are hardware audiometers and are commonly found in clinic or industrial applications. An alternative to these audiometers are the software audiometers, which cannot be calibrated but are available in several pre-determined configurations. These audiometers are much simpler to use as compared to the hardware audiometers as software audiometers can use PC based technologies which makes them useable even by nonprofessionals at homes. The accuracy of these devices is usually not as high as hardware audiometers due to their incapability to support calibration. Today, some of such audiometers can even be found on handheld devices. Clinical PC based audiometers tend to be more expensive as compared to the handheld or software audiometers as they allow for calibrations and greater levels of accuracy and efficiency. Aside from being used in hospitals, audiology centers and research communities, audiometers are also used to conduct Industrial Audiometric Testing. These audiometers have the capability to be calibrated to the accuracy of fractions of a decibel, which make them even more accurate than hardware audiometers. Some of these audiometers can even provide the user with the capability to create their own diagnostic test with pre-set values according to the user preferences.

 

Audiometers being used in clinics for testing of hearing capabilities should be calibrated regularly to ensure that the results that the device displays are accurate as to what the actual stimulus the subject is exposed to. Calibration is very important as accurate and reliable results would help doctors determine if the patient is suffering from hearing loss. Proper calibration would also ensure that the readings are constant, irrelevant of the location the audiometer is located at.

 

Audiometers are usually separate pieces of hardware that exist on their own. However, digital audiometers that work as a software as well as a hardware are also available in the market. Such audiometers are commonly used by speech and hearing therapists who work in educational sectors, guiding students whose hearing capabilities are not that efficient to monitor the progress of their students. Although in these settings such audiometers may be very useful, they are not preferred in clinics and industrial settings as such places would require audiometers that can provide extremely accurate results. Young children are usually tested with audiometers to check for any hearing disorders amongst them.

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