Pure Tone Audiometry is the test most often used by Audiological services to determine the nature and severity of an individual’s hearing loss. It is used to provide a baseline for all further tests and treatments as it is a useful indicator of functional hearing.
Most Comfortable Loudness (MCL) is defined as the hearing level at which speech is most comfortably loud. Pure tone MCL are typically obtained by measuring using an ascending technique, similar to the Pure Tone Audiometry thresholds. Speech MCL does demonstrate a more reliable result than the Pure Tone version as the listener is being provided with information which makes sense to their Auditory pathways.
Uncomfortable Loudness Level (UCL) is defined as the hearing level at which a stimuli becomes uncomfortable for the listener. It is often considered appropriate to perform this test where the listener requires intervention in the form of a hearing device; this test provides a threshold at which amplification should not be crossed.
Since its inception in 1909 it has been considered a “gold standard” test to be undertaken within a test battery. This test used predominantly with older children and Adult populations as its primary role is to determine the hearing acuity of the patient.
Pure Tone Audiometry should be undertaken in a soundproof environment to obtain the most accurate responses across the speech frequencies. Responses to the assessment should be plotted accurately on the graph and interpreted by the clinician alongside current guidelines and recommendations. Performing MCL should be undertaken for clients who are being considered for hearing devices so as to assist with the determination of Acceptable Noise Level.
Performing UCL should be undertaken with caution where the listener reports Tinnitus, Hyperacusis, unusual distress from loud sounds or any other related conditions. Using UCL thresholds allows for the Audiology professional to understand where the client is having issues relating to loudness levels. Guidance is found here on how to perform the test.
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