Importance of Hearing Tests
From the moment your child is born, they start to learn everything that surrounds them – including language. Babies who can hear well learn a lot more about the world through the sounds they hear around them. It would be a huge problem if your child can’t hear well because they likely will have trouble learning to talk and read.
It’s not a question also that hearing plays a vital role in your child’s emotional and social development. It’s extremely important to detect the signs and symptoms of hearing loss as early as possible so that your child can receive any support and treatment that they’re going to need.
Why Your Baby Needs to Have Their Hearing Screened
1 out of every 400 births is born with permanent hearing loss. There aren’t any obvious signs that your baby is not able to hear well aside from watching their responses to sounds that surround them. This is why you should have your baby undergo a hearing test or screening so that you and your pediatrician can do something about it right away.
What Pediatric Hearing Tests Are Like
Typically, your baby will be screened in the hospital or in the local community center before you can bring them home. If your baby’s hearing wasn’t screened, you can contact your local public health unit so that your baby can be screened right away.
You don’t need to worry that doctors would blast loud noises near your baby’s ears. Doctors would play soft sounds instead and a computer will measure your baby’s responses from their ears. Hearing screening works best at least 12 hours after giving birth and while your baby is peacefully sleeping.
What You Can Do As A Parent
It’s so hard to measure your baby’s hearing capability. Hearing loss can develop at any time during your child’s developmental years. Even if your baby has passed the hearing screening, you still have to pay attention to their awareness of the sounds and early attempts of your child to talk.
Here are a few symptoms that are quite alarming:
- Ear discharges
- An ear injury
- There is an object in the ear
- Foul order coming from the ear
- Redness of the skin around the ear
Types of Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is damage or a blockage in the outer and/or middle ear. This can be caused by earwax, a perforated eardrum, abnormal bone growth of the ossicles, there is a fluid build up in the middle area of the ear caused by a cold or flu, allergies, and repeated ear infections. This type of hearing loss is more common in children.
Sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss can occur when there is damage to the hair cells in the cochlea. This is one of the most uncommon cases of hearing loss.
Mixed hearing loss
Mixed hearing loss usually occurs when both conductive and sensorineural hearing losses are present.
Auditory Neuropathy can occur when the auditory nerve transmitting the signal from the cochlea to the brain receives a problem. This type of hearing loss is fluctuating and the speech in background noise can be a little hard to hear.
Types of Hearing Tests for Children
Test for babies and toddlers
Conditioned Play Audiometry: This test is for children from 2 to 4 years old. In this test, your child is taught a game wherein your child will put a block into a bucket every single time they will hear a sound.
Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): Your child should be sleeping while this test is being conducted. Using small earphones, sounds are introduced to your child’s ears. Small sensors will be placed on their forehead and behind each ear so that the doctors can measure their response from the hearing nerve. For older children who are harder to put to sleep, mild sedation can be administered.
Visual Reinforcement Audiometry (VRA): This test is used for babies over 6 months of age. Doctors will use your baby’s natural head turn to make them look for sounds that are surrounding them. Your baby would also be taught to turn to sounds from toys that light up.
Tests for child 4 years old and above
Speech Audiometry: Your child will either point to pictures or repeat words. You can combine with pure tone audiometry to give a more complete picture of your child’s hearing.
Pure Tone Audiometry: Your child will be tested on how they respond to sounds by raising a hand or pressing a button. Different volumes and pitches of sounds will be presented to your child through headphones.
Test for all ages
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs): A small, soft earphone will be placed on your child’s ear that will emit sounds. Present OAEs usually mean good hearing.
Tympanometry: This test can measure the movement of the eardrum and can detect any fluids in the middle ear. This can also detect other problems in the middle ear area.
Is My Baby’s Hearing Loss Permanent or Temporary?
For infants and young children, hearing loss can be temporary and can be treated. A pediatric audiologist can determine whether or not your child has hearing loss and what type of hearing loss it is.
Treatment of Hearing Loss
Wax blockage removal. One way that could cause hearing loss is due to earwax. Your doctor can perform an earwax removal using suction or a small tool with a loop on the end.
Surgical procedures. Hearing loss can be treated with surgery especially if there are abnormalities of the eardrum of the ossicles. If the infection is persistent and with fluids, your doctor may insert small tubes that can help drain the fluid.
Hearing aids. If the cause of your hearing loss is due to damage in your inner ear, you can use a hearing aid. Talk with your child’s doctor about this before using any hearing aid in the market.
Cochlear implants. A cochlear implant can be an option if your child is experiencing a more severe hearing loss and hearing aids provide limited benefits.
If you are concerned about your child’s hearing, if he/she has a history of recurrent ear infections, speech delay or exposure to medications that can affect the hearing, contact us for a pediatric hearing test. We offer pure tone audiometry and tympanometry. If further evaluation is required, we work with local specialists in Fresno and Madera, and Valley Children’s Hospital.
We can be reached at (559) 728 4133 (Fresno Office) and at (559) 673 6085 (Madera office).