Hearing Tests for Children
Children undergo hearing tests for a variety of reasons, but usually hearing tests for children are routine. There are those that sit outside the usual routine tests when a problem arises, and when a child has hearing loss it’s better if this is identified as early as possible in life so that provisions can be made. When children have hearing loss, they may miss out on certain sounds and this can be in either pitch or volume.
The hearing of your child is assessed by a hearing health professional. They will check for hearing issues that could be present in:
- The outer parts of the ear, including the ear lobes and ear canal
- The middle parts of the ear, from the ear drum and middle ear bones to the Eustachian tube
- The inner parts of the ear including the cochlea and the nerves associated with hearing
There are some common issues that can cause hearing loss in children, including glue ear. This is usually when fluid builds up behind the eardrum and it’s common in childhood viral infections. Usually, the fluid is supposed to drain off after the swelling from the infection goes away, but some children require their ears to be drained by their hearing health professional. Depending on the age and the ability of the child, hearing tests are performed differently. The idea behind them is that they test the quietest sound that your child can hear.
Newborn hearing tests
It has become common practice among healthcare providers to test the hearing of a newborn before they leave the hospital or ward after birth. It’s vital for the hearing health of your child that hearing loss in any form is diagnosed before three months of age. Hearing loss which is presented at birth usually is dealt with before six months, as early intervention can make a difference both to their hearing and their function levels. There are two possible hearing tests that are performed on newborn babies. These are not painful and usually can be done on a sleeping baby without disturbance. These include:
- Otoacoustic emission (OAE) test: This is where a very small microphone is placed into the baby’s ear. The sounds are then sent down into the ear and then the sound the cochlea emits is then recorded in the ear canal. These emissions can then be analyzed and if there is a hearing loss, there will be no sound emissions present.
- Auditory brainstem response (ABR) test: Several electrodes are placed around your child’s head and ear. During periods of rest, the stimulus is presented to each ear through headphones. The brain activity is then analyzed to see if there is any hearing capability.
If a baby does not pass the hearing test, they will be rescreened by a hearing health professional to confirm the results.
Infant may be tested with audiometry testing, which is used to observe their behavior in response to different sounds. This can be done at different frequencies and see what pitch and volume they can hear.
Another test that can be performed is the sound field test, which is done with visual reinforcement. Sounds are played through loudspeakers, and then if the infant turns toward the sound they will be treated to a new picture to look at or a toy
A hearing health professional will be able to assess the child if there is any irregularity in the test results.
Toddlers, a little more boisterous than babies, are slightly different when it comes to testing. This is done with conditioned play audiometry (CPA) and they must be mature enough to handle this testing strategy. The hearing test is presented as a game, and children are asked to play with toys every time they can hear a noise. This is not a test for those who can’t follow instructions yet, as it relies on the toddler being able to participate.
Older child testing
Older children are far more compliant for hearing tests, and thus a hearing health professional will use tympanometry to see how their inner ear is functioning. There is a force of air pressure into the ear, where the ear drum will be made to move and see how the ear is functioning. The eardrums mobility is checked, and children need to sit very still for this to work.
Contact us today
For more information on hearing testing in children, talk to the team at Armand’s Hearing Center by calling our Bradenton location at 941-748-9800 or our Sun City Center office at 813-938-1148.