Types of Hearing Tests
If you are thinking of tests for 3 year olds or more or less of the same age group, these programs generally include two types of tests; Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) and Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR). Both these tests are noninvasive and can be carried out without pain while the baby rests quietly.
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE): This test consists of the usage of a tiny probe that is put into the ear for the purpose of detecting echoes which are produced by the inner ear in response to the sounds. It is also used for finding out any kind of obstruction in the ear canal, fluid behind the eardrum or any issue related to cochlea.
Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): In this procedure, the electrodes that are positioned on the head, record electrical activity in the nerve for hearing, and in the brain, in response to sounds. This test is capable of determining complications in the inner ear, the auditory nerve and the hearing center of the brain.
Both these examinations take approximately 5-15 minutes to complete and are reliable screening techniques. Hospitals prefer either of the two tests due to reasons such as cost and accessibility of well-trained personnel, and not because one method is better than the other. Both these tests are, as a matter of fact complementary to each other, and for conducting an exhaustive analysis of hearing loss, both of them are required to be carried out.
Approximately 2%-10% percent of all newborns fail the test, but less than 1% are reported to have a genuine hearing loss. The percentage of children having normal hearing but failing the test is around 4% for ABR test and between 5%-21% in the case of the OAE test. The rate might turn out to be higher for OAE test, since it is more impacted if the residual amniotic fluid is present in the ear canal.
Interpretation of Hearing Tests
Both the tests employ computer technology for comparing the newborn baby’s response to the standard response, and for giving a pass or fail result. If the report is ‘fail’, it does not mean that the child is deaf, it just tells that the child needs to go through another testing at a later date. In few cases, even an infant who has normal hearing ability may fail the test. This normally occurs when the amniotic fluid obstructs the ear canal. If this is the case, sound waves get blocked from reaching the cochlea, showing a negative report. The results can also be negative if the baby cries during the test.
In case of poorly developed children, hearing test tones are used. This procedure includes the screener displaying pictures of things a kid is acquainted with such as a ball, a car, or a doll; and then lowering the tone of the screener, to check if the child can hear it. If you want to conduct a test online, there are many websites which provide this facility. You simply need good headphones and a quiet room where you can carry out the test.
Along with carrying out the hearing test for toddlers, the physician may ask questions pertaining to the child’s behavior, abilities, and health history. He may even observe the kids’ activity and responses to loud sounds.