What to expect from a hearing test for children
Hearing tests are often associated with old-age, but did you know it’s equally important for children to have their hearing regularly tested? If you have any concerns about your child’s hearing, it’s vital you get them to an audiologist for a check-up.
While this may sound like a daunting experience, an experienced audiologist will endeavour to create a calm, no-pressure environment to put your child at ease.
So what’s involved in a hearing test for children?
That depends on how old your child is and their past and current hearing health. Tests usually fall into 2 categories: objective and behavioural.
Behavioural hearing tests
These tests are about your child responding to sounds they hear. For older children, this may involve testing their ability to understand speech. For younger children, up to the age of 5, a variety of techniques are used to make their hearing test more accessible and fun:
- Visual reinforcement audiometry (VRA), where your child turns their head in response to a sound to receive a visual reward, like a toy lighting up.
- Pure tone audiometry, where sounds are played to your child and they’ll be asked to take an action when they hear them, such as putting a ball into a bucket. This and VRA can help to determine what the quietest sounds are that your child can hear.
Objective hearing tests
These tests don’t require a response from your child and assess the health of different parts of their ears:
- Otoacoustic emission (OAE) checks the health of the inner ear by detecting whether the outer hair cells on the cochlea respond to soft sounds.
- Tympanometry checks the health of the middle ear, focusing specifically on how well the eardrum moves when reflecting sound. If it isn’t moving freely, there could be an issue with the middle ear.
Dealing with the results
Children’s hearing tests are designed to catch hearing problems as soon as possible to prevent any hearing-related issues with their speech, language, educational or social development.
If your child’s hearing test reveals that your child has some level of hearing loss, your audiologist will talk you through exactly what’s going on and what your treatment options are. Conditions such as glue ear and ear infections are common and often result in a temporary hearing loss but can be easily treated.