Hearing loss becomes more common as people age, but youth doesn’t guarantee exemption. Even newborns can experience hearing loss, putting them at risk of delayed language development. Fortunately, pediatric hearing tests can identify issues early, ensuring children receive the necessary services to thrive.
How do audiologists perform evaluations on kids too young to communicate? There are several tests, including some designed for babies only a few weeks old.
Hearing Tests for Children Over the Age of 4
Most kids have regular hearing evaluations for their first few school years, starting at age 4 or 5. Parents can also ask their children’s doctors for testing if they notice the following signs:
- Frequent mispronunciation
- Loud talking
- Poor concentration
- No response to their name
Since kids of this age can follow directions and answer questions, audiologists can use hearing tests that require patient participation.
Audiologists position a tube with a small speaker close to the ear during tympanometry. The tube measures how much sound bounces off the eardrum.
If an evaluation detects hearing loss, audiologists may want a bone conduction test to pinpoint the issue. To do so, they’ll use a device that vibrates, sending sound through the head bones to the inner ear.
During pure tone audiometry, patients press a button when they hear a tone pumped through their headphones. Audiologists can study which tones patients miss and determine if their hearing falls within the normal range.
Hearing Evaluations for Children Over the Age of 1
Since toddlers respond well to games, audiologists usually present hearing tests as play. These evaluations require some patient participation, but not to the same level as those for older children.
Also called VRA, visual reinforcement audiometry measures the extremes of your child’s hearing. Kids get rewards when they indicate they heard a sound. Children can participate in this test while sitting on a caregiver’s lap.
Like VRA, play audiometry measures the lowest volume and pitch toddlers can hear. However, this approach utilizes headphones to produce the sounds.
Hearing Tests for Newborns
All babies should have hearing tests within the first few weeks to catch issues as soon as possible. The following evaluations are also available to toddlers if their audiologists deem it necessary.
Since newborns can’t perform specific tasks to indicate they hear a sound, audiologists must pay careful attention to their natural reactions through behavioral audiometry. Like other tests, behavioral audiometry uses tones of different volumes and pitches.
Auditory brainstem response, or ABR, is more accurate than behavioral audiometry because it measures brain activity instead of relying on infants’ responses. During this test, earphones play various sounds while electrodes record responding brainwaves.
An evoked otoacoustic emissions test, or EOAE, measures emissions produced by the ear in response to sound. To do so, a plug containing a microphone and a speaker sends sounds into a sleeping baby’s ear and records the resulting emissions.
Appointments for Hearing Tests
Catching hearing loss early gives children the best chance of developing vital language and social skills. HEAR Center provides hearing tests to kids and adults alike, ensuring patients have access to care regardless of age.
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