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Determining the type and cause of your hearing loss can be like a putting together a puzzle, and the many tests that make up a thorough hearing evaluation are like pieces to that puzzle.

Often used to assess the function of the middle ear, tympanometry is one test that can determine whether your hearing loss can be helped by hearing aids or whether a medical treatment is available to treat your loss instead. It's also used to detect middle ear problems, especially in children, even if they do not have hearing loss.

In simple terms, tympanometry is a medical test that measures the function and movement of the eardrum and middle ear. The results of tympanometry are represented on a graph called a tympanogram. The test is usually quick and painless, unless the eardrum or middle ear are inflamed.

Tympanometry is typically used to detect or rule out several things: the presence of fluid in the middle ear, a middle ear infection, a hole in the eardrum (perforation), or Eustachian tube dysfunction. This test is especially important for children who have suspected middle ear problems, but it's also sometimes given to adults as part of a routine hearing test to determine if there are any middle ear problems contributing to hearing loss.

Adults and children who are seeking medical clearance for hearing aids will usually receive a tympanometry test. Fluid behind the eardrum is the most common cause of an abnormal tympanogram because it prevents the eardrum from moving and transmitting sound properly. This condition is nearly always temporary and medically treatable.

If you have fluid in your ear, you may not need hearing aids to correct your hearing loss, but you should consult with your physician and hearing health professional to determine the best course of action.

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