There are many different types of hearing tests that can be attempted based on your child’s age and level of understanding. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends more thorough hearing tests at specific age intervals. Tests should be done more often if your child has symptoms of hearing loss, has persistent ear infections, there is a family history of hearing loss or there are delays in speech development.
Hearing Tests for A Newborn Baby
There are 2 main types of hearing screening methods for newborns. These may be used alone or together:
- Evoked otoacoustic emissions (EOAE). A test that uses a tiny, flexible plug that is put into the baby’s ear that sends sounds into the ear. A microphone in the plug records the otoacoustic responses (emissions) of the inner ear in reaction to the sounds. There are no emissions in a baby with hearing loss. This test is painless and it often takes just a few minutes while the baby sleeps. This test is available in the offices of Pediatric Ear, Nose and Throat Associates, where a caring pediatric medical provider and pediatric audiologist will evaluate your infant or child and perform the testing. Results are available immediately and will be reviewed with your family.
- Auditory brainstem response (ABR). A test that uses electrodes (sensors) attached to the baby’s head. While the baby sleeps, clicking sounds are made through tiny earphones in the baby’s ears. The test measures the brain’s activity in response to the sounds. As in EOAE, this test is painless but takes a little longer. Some small infants can be tested while asleep. Older babies and children who need this testing can be scheduled under sedation to complete this testing.
If the screening tests find that your child has a hearing loss, don’t worry! There are many types of hearing loss and many can be treated medically or surgically. Our pediatric otolaryngology team at Pediatric Ear, Nose and Throat Associates provides a caring environment to help children with hearing loss gain better hearing. Often, more testing is needed to determine the exact type of hearing loss and to check for stability of the loss over time. Babies with hearing loss should be identified by age 3 months of age. Treatment can begin before the baby is 6 months old, an important time for speech and language development.
Hearing Tests for A Toddler
A toddler’s hearing assessment may include the tests mentioned above, along with:
- Play audiometry. A test that uses a machine to send sounds at different volumes and pitches into your child’s ears. The child often wears earphones to get ear specific information. Many children who have had the test before find it fun and ask “Can I play the listening game again?!” when they come to our office. This test is changed slightly in the toddler age group and made into a game. The toddler is asked to touch or move a toy every time the sound is heard.
- Visual reinforcement audiometry (VRA). A test where the child is trained to look toward a sound source. When the child gives a correct response, the child is rewarded through a visual reinforcement. This may be a toy that moves or a flashing light. The test is most often used for children between 6 months to 2 years old.
Babies and children often find these types of hearing tests fun and engaging, however, the cooperation of the child is required. At Pediatric Ear, Nose and Throat Associates, our skilled pediatric audiologists really make a difference!
Hearing Tests for A Older Child
A hearing evaluation for a child older than age 3 may include the tests mentioned above, along with:
- Pure tone audiometry. A test that uses a machine that makes sounds at different volumes and pitches in your child’s ears. The child often wears earphones. In this age group, the child is simply asked to respond in some way when the tone is heard through the earphone (raise your hand or point to your nose)
An important additional test:
- Tympanometry (also called impedance testing). A test that can be done in our office to help find out how the middle ear (behind the ear drum) is working. It is not a test to determine hearing, but it helps to find any changes in pressure or fluid in the middle ear that may be affecting hearing. This test can be done at all ages, but it is best done in a cooperative child that is not moving or crying.
At Pediatric Ear, Nose and Throat Associates, we provide a wide variety of hearing testing and treatment options in our office for children birth to 21 years of age. If your child needs a hearing evaluation or you are concerned with their hearing, don’t hesitate to call our office at 716-362-9730 today to schedule an appointment.
For additional information please review our guide to hearing testing in children.
Rest assured, we are following all current Covid-19 prevention protocols in our exam rooms and hearing booths including temperature monitoring, room cleaning and disinfecting, social distancing and thorough cleaning of all hearing test equipment.