Common Children's Hearing Tests

Middle Ear Hearing Testing for Children

These tests are used to check middle ear function - a common cause of hearing loss. Problems such as fluid in the middle ear, a hole in the eardrum, or problems with the small bones in the middle ear can result in conductive hearing loss that generally can be treated medically or surgically. To obtain a tympanogram (to test middle ear function), a small earphone is placed in the ear canal, and eardrum movement is measured in response to small changes in air pressure. The acoustic reflex test checks the function of a small muscle in the middle ear. 

Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Test

This test can be used to determine if the tiny hair cells in the inner ear are functioning normally. The procedure is painless and can be performed at any age, even in newborns. To measure OAEs, a miniature earphone and microphone are placed in the ear canal. Sounds are presented and a response or "emission" from the inner ear is recorded. Patients do not need to respond in any way; they simply need to remain quiet for a few minutes. When testing young children, toys and other visual distractions are used to keep them quiet and calm. The test can be performed while the child is asleep. 

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