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Southern DHB Audiology

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    The audiology team at Wakari and Southland hospitals specialises in testing the hearing of children, and fitting children with hearing aids.

    The audiologists also see adult patients on referral from Ear Nose and Throat, Neurology and Oncology specialties.
    Audiologists are part of the allied health group of health professionals, and are highly trained in the prevention, identification, assessment and non-medical treatment of hearing disorders.

    Services offered by Audiology include:

    • Diagnostic hearing assessment for all ages including newborns referred from the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme
    • Habilitation and hearing aid fitting for children with permanent or significant hearing loss
    • Auditory Processing Assessment
    • Ototoxicity monitoring



    Hearing Loss

    Hearing loss can be divided into two types: conductive hearing loss (caused by some sort of mechanical problem in the external or middle ear) or sensorineural hearing loss (caused by disorders of the inner ear, hearing nerve or associated brain structures).

    Conductive hearing loss is often reversible and can be due to:

    blockage of the ear by e.g. wax, inflammation, infections or middle ear fluid poor sound conduction because of e.g. holes or scarring in the eardrum or the bones of the middle ear (ossicles) becoming fixed and rigid.


    Sensorineural hearing loss is generally not reversible and can be caused by:

    genetic make-up (this could include congenital conditions i.e. those you are born with, or late-onset hearing loss) head injury tumours infections certain medications exposure to loud noises the aging process (a significant hearing loss is experienced by about one third of people aged over 70 years).


    Some of the signs you might notice that indicate you have a hearing loss include:

    having to turn up the volume on the TV or radio finding it hard to hear someone you are talking with finding it hard to hear in a group situation where there is background noise e.g. in a restaurant having to ask people to repeat themselves you find people’s speech is unclear – they are ‘mumbling’

    Hearing loss can be partial (you can still hear some things) or complete (you hear nothing) and may occur in one or both ears.



    Treatments for hearing loss range from the removal of wax in the ear canal to complex surgery, depending on the cause of the loss. One of the most common treatments for hearing loss is the use of a hearing aid. The type of aid you get depends on the cause of your hearing loss and how bad it is, as well as what your preferences are in terms of comfort, appearance and lifestyle.

    If your hearing loss is severe to profound, you may be suitable for a surgical procedure known as a cochlear implant. In this procedure, a small cut (incision) is made behind your ear and a device is implanted that can bypass the damaged parts of your ear. The surgery usually takes 2-3 hours and is performed under general anaesthesia (you sleep through it). You may be able to go home the same day or have to spend one night in hospital.

    Hearing Tests

    Audiometry is the electronic testing of hearing ability. You will sit in a special room wearing earphones and be asked to respond when you hear a noise through the earphones. These tests can measure your hearing levels as well as other aspects of hearing such as the ability to recognise speech against background noise.


    Typanometry uses sound and air pressure to check middle ear function. A small, soft probe is placed in your ear for a few seconds and a computer measures your ears response to sounds and pressure emitted through the probe. This test is often carried out in young children to assess for glue ear.