Validity of the hum test in predicting hearing loss

A basic hearing evaluation generally involves the use of tuning fork tests.

In the Weber tuning fork test, the tuning fork is hit, causing it to vibrate, then placed on the midline forehead. Patients are asked if the sound forms in only one ear, or is midline. A person with normal hearing would hear the sound in the midline, but certain types of hearing loss will cause the sound to be heard in one ear more than the other.

A new study presented at the 2007 AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO suggests that an additional hearing test, the hum hearing test, is a reliable alternative to the Weber tuning fork test for initial hearing evaluation. Patients perform a hum test by simply humming to themselves, then determining whether they hear the hum in one ear, or if it is heard in the middle. The prospective study examined 100 patients over a four- month period who presented to a neurotologic clinic with hearing loss. Patients were given hearing evaluations with a tuning fork, the hum test, and a standard audiogram. The hum and Weber test had a 95 percent correlation to one another in diagnosing conductive hearing loss and a 70 percent correlation in diagnosing sensorineural hearing loss.
Findings from the study could result in an easier diagnostic tool for hearing loss for otolarnygologists and general practitioners, and would require less patient instruction.

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