It is scientifically proven that moderate to severe hearing loss can impair a person’s participation in everyday activities. In such a situation, hearing tests remain the best way to tackle the frustrating condition. When testing younger patients or toddlers, audiologists must utilize specific methods to ascertain the main problem.
Most importantly, babies younger than six months should not be tested because their developing auditory system might give erroneous results. Below are standard hearing effective tests done on children.
Air Conduction Hearing Tests
This type of hearing exam is done by placing a thermoplastic probe into a child’s ear canal to measure the sounds they hear. The audiologist presents two tones in each ear and then repeats the test using words or sentences.
Bone Conduction Test
The audiologist places a molded plastic earpiece over your child’s good ear and talks into it while using a special microphone near the head. Your child indicates when he understands what is said by ‘filling’ air through his nose with slight movements of his mouth, cheeks, jaw, and tongue.
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This test helps measure how well your child can hear speech when there is background noise. Also, it evaluates if an individual hears soft-spoken voices transmitted through the bones around the ears.
This examination is done by presenting your child with five words that he must repeat back to the audiologist while she measures his ability to hear them. Sometimes medics use a masking noise with very soft frequencies in a procedure called” low-frequency stimulation.” The process detects how well an individual can hear sounds at very soft levels.
Medics conduct this test to compare child’s hearing abilities with their age. Luckily, they know which word or sentence your child should be able to understand, so if he fails to recognize a particular one, it may indicate that his hearing is below the expected level.
Sometimes an audiologist may evaluate the situation using instruments. While these tools reveal how your child hears at various pitches, they do not determine speech ability. Here are common tests done with various instruments.
Auditory brain stem response (ABR)
This testing uses a series of sounds to measure how well different parts of the auditory system function. It is done by placing electrodes on your child’s head over his ears, and rushing intones into each ear through the headphones. The responses from the auditory nerve are recorded within 14-16 milliseconds after each sound is played. These instruments can help detect when there is an abnormal connection between the outer ear and the inner ear and conditions such as Ménière’s disease.
Electrocochleography (ECoG) test
In this analysis detects auditory nerve and cochlear problems by placing electrodes on a child’s head, one over each ear. A series of tones are then played directly into the ear through a probe placed in the external ear canal. The responses from the inner ear will be recorded as they occur. These tests measure how well your child’s inner ears and auditory nerves respond to sound.
Evoked response audiometry (ERA)
Here, medical experts measure how well different parts of your child’s hearing system function together. Then, slight electrical currents pass through electrodes attached to the forehead. In addition, medics use clicks or tones to stimulate the ears throughout the process. Usually, it takes about 45 minutes to complete the entire test.
Visual reinforcement audiometry (VRA) test
Medics use computers to present a series of sounds. Your child will then press a button when he hears one of the target sounds. The results are displayed on the computer screen for straightforward interpretation, and each test lasts about 20 minutes. This type of hearing exam is often used to identify children with learning disabilities or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
No-turn table Test
In these hearing tests, a speaker or buzzer emits tones at different frequencies while your child listens with both ears over headphones. Results are then plotted on a graph called an audiogram. Your child’s hearing loss is indicated by the area where the line or the audiogram dips – called a dip type of loss.
This test assesses your child’s hearing when there is a blockage in the outer or middle ear. For this one, your audiologist will have the child sit with their back to him as he stands next to a speaker emitting high-pitched sounds. Then, he will then place his hand on the toddler’s shoulder and stand close enough so that they can hear it too.
This is another way to evaluate your child’s ability to hear high-pitched sounds. An audiologist asks the patient to stand next to them as they speak into a microphone. They then hold it in front of your child’s better ear and ask if they hear it. If there is no response after repeating both sides four to six times, the microphone fork is moved slightly closer and checked again. The results are then reported in decibels (dB).
Finally, he’ll enquire if the child can still hear the sound being emitted from the speaker before and after placing his hand on your shoulder.
Other common tests done to determine damage extent include; Pure tone audiometry test, Dichotic listening test, Otoacoustic emissions test, and speech reception threshold (SRT) test.
Word of Caution About Hearing Tests
Do not schedule an appointment for hearing tests if your child suffers from any infection or dehydration. This is because the conditions might affect how a child responds to sound. Instead, allow them to recover to prevent achieving incorrect results fully. Most likely, a reliable medic will repeat the hearing tests weeks later to confirm any progress.