We all know what it is like to start developing hearing impairment with age. However, it is a lot more trickier when hearing impairment affects a child. Children might not even have the ability to realize they have a hearing problem. Hence, there are various hearing tests for children, depending on their age group.
Tests For Infants
There are two conclusive screening methods to detect the impairment even in babies as young as 3 months so that the treatment can begin before the baby reaches the age of language development. The methods are:
- Evoked Oto-acoustic Emissions: EOAE test is performed by sending sound signals into a sleeping baby’s ear through a flexible plug (it is a painless process) and recording the response or oto-acoustic emissions from the ear. The level of, or the lack of response determines the level of hearing impairment.
- Auditory brainstem response: This involves attaching electrodes to the scalp of the baby and performing a sound stimuli response test, while they are asleep. Like EOAE, ABR too is a painless procedure.
Tests For Toddlers
When you doubt hearing impairment in a child who is above 6 months old, but still just a toddler, these are the tests to go for:
- Play audiometry: In this method, the toddler is given earphones through which sound is transmitted. The child is asked to signal by holding a toy every time the sound is heard.
- Visual reinforcement audiometry: In this test, the child is asked to look for the source of sound. It is made like a game instead of a plain instruction so that the child cooperates. So the child is given a toy or some visual reinforcement every time he or she gets the source of the sound right.
These tests are recommended to be performed on days when the child is in the right frame of mind and willing to cooperate, else the results might come out wrong.
Tests For Older Children
Children above the age of 3 do not usually develop hearing impairment out of nowhere. It can follow a traumatic situation or an accident, but sometimes it can indeed just happen without an explanation. There are two hearing tests for children above 3 years of age:
- Pure tone audiometry: This test simply transmits sounds of varying volumes and pitches into the child’s ear via earphones and the child is asked to respond if he or she perceives the stimulus.
- Tympanometry: This test is basically to detect problems in the functioning of the middle ear. Also called impedance audiometry, this test has nothing to do with the voluntary response of the child. It measures the impact of a sound stimulus on the pressure in the middle ear. This test is very conclusive but needs the child’s full cooperation. The child needs to sit very still without making any sound or movement.
If you suspect hearing issues in your child, consult an ENT specialist to go for one of these tests immediately. Earlier the treatment starts, the easier it will be to expedite the overall normal development of your child.