What Should You Expect During Children Hearing Tests?
As much as we fear the worst for our kids, sometimes the worst is not what we expect. Concerns are often misplaced and we are bound by misleading information from unreliable sources. Apparently, detecting a hearing loss in children from an early age is important. An undetected hearing loss affects a child’s speech, language and cognitive development. Not to mention, there are risk’s factors for hearing loss. A child with a risk factor for hearing loss must have regular hearing tests. Additionally, a hearing loss can also be present in children when there are no risk factors. Therefore, it is wise to have children hearing tests for your kids if you have any concerns. Your kid’s ears are important! So, take action while you can.
The prospect of having your child’s hearing checked can be daunting when you don’t know what to expect. A hearing test is nothing to worry about. No child or baby is too young to have a reliable test. In this article, we will discuss what to expect during children hearing tests, when are they necessary and the types of assessments necessary to ensure that your kid’s ears are free from hearing loss. And this is all for the benefit of the child’s development and wellness. So, here are:
Things to Expect During Children Hearing Tests
The Early Signs
During consultations, the audiologist will have a brief discussion with you regarding your child’s hearing to understand any potential risk factors and will guide the audiologist on what tests to use. Children are resilient. So, detecting the problems could be really difficult. A few questions the audiologist might ask are:
- Are you concerned about your child’s hearing?
- Does your child suffer from ear infections, sore ears or colds?
- Do you have to repeat yourself many times before your child responds?
- How is your child’s speech and language development?
- How is your child’s balance?
The specialist will ask questions to understand your kid’s condition better. Then after that, the audiologist will liaise with your GP.
Next, the audiologist will look in the child’s ears. We call this procedure otoscopy. It is important that wax or discharge are not blocking the ear canals. Because if it were the case, it will greatly affect the efficiency of children hearing tests. The audiologist will check whether the eardrum looks healthy or not. Sometimes there may be a hole in the eardrum or fluid behind it.
How do we test hearing?
There are different types of tests with respect to many factors including the child’s age. For example, infants below 1-year-old are often unable to follow instructions so alternative tests is necessary. The audiologist will assess which hearing tests would best fit your kid.
The Types of Auditory Tests for Kids:
1. Behavioural Observation Audiometry (BOA)
This is best for babies up to 6 months of age. Specialists will use Instruments know as noisemakers. Drums, high-frequency rattles and chimes are examples of noisemakers. The child’s reaction to the various noisemakers is observed. Also, they are presented at different loudness levels from soft to very loud.
2. Visual Reinforcement Orientation Audiometry (VROA)
The test can is best when the child has enough muscle control to turn his/her head towards a sound. This hearing response starts around 4 months of age. And is established by 6 months of age. Children hearing tests used from 6 months of age to around 3 years of age. We play them sounds of different frequencies and observe the way they react by turning towards the speaker or the source of the sound.
3. Play Audiometry
Play audiometry is similar to an adult test. The child wears headphones and is encouraged to respond when they hear a sound. To engage and keep the child’s attention the test is made into a game. They are praised, for example, when they put a peg into a peg-board immediately after hearing a sound. The audiologist always demonstrates / models to the child how to respond when a sound is heard. As a child with a hearing loss won’t hear instructions well, it is important to show/ model and not to tell them how to respond.
These types of children hearing tests determine which areas of the auditory system cause deafness. The child takes little or no part at all in the process, except a physical response on a specific part of their auditory system.
1. Otoacoustic Emission Testing (OAE)
The hair cells of the cochlea respond to sounds by echoing a very soft sound of their own called otoacoustic emission. And this is what the assessment would test for.
2. Brainstem Evoked Response Audiometry (BERA)
This assessment gathers data on the electrical activity along the nerve pathway, commonly called the brainstem. These electrical activities generate in response to sound. BERA is one of the most sophisticated children hearing tests nowadays.
3. Tympanometry and Acoustic Reflex
Tympanometry and acoustic reflex aim to gather data on the eardrum’s movement which can indicate issues from the middle ear that may cause conducive deafness. Otherwise, if the result is a normal tympanogram, other tests such as testing the muscle reflex in the middle ear will be done.
Alternatively, you can start with a consultation from a general paediatrician so you can rule out the possibility of ear infection and every other possibility irrelevant to deafness. But when your GP recommends a consultation from an audiologist, there’s no reason to jump to conclusions yet. It would be the best thing for your child to ensure their wellness. Again, take note that deafness has different effects on adult and children.
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Also, keep producing the music that you love without having to worry about the effects of loud noise in your ears. Check out our article: Musician Earplugs: How to know which one is right for you?