Hearing Tests For Babies And Children

Posted on: 6 January 2020

There are several different hearing tests that your child will undergo throughout their lifetime, even if their hearing is sound. Every baby has their hearing tested during their first few days of life. This is to ensure that early intervention methods can be instituted if the child has a problem. Your child will most likely have one of the following hearing tests:

Otoacoustic Emissions

Did you know that when you hear something a small sound is emitted by the fine hairs in your inner ear? Measuring the very faint sound that these hairs emit is one method of measuring if someone can hear or not. The otoacoustic emissions test is just that. A probe is placed in your ear which both emits a sound and measures the noise that comes back from your inner ear. When the test is administered to someone who cannot hear, no sound will be measured. 

Auditory Brainstem Response

This test measures your brain's response to sound. When administered, electrodes are placed on the person's head in specific locations where their brain activity can be tracked. A sound is then made and the electrodes transmit any activity that happens in response. For individuals who cannot hear, no response will be present.

Additionally, hearing tests are administered throughout schools across the United States. Should a child have failed to receive proper treatment for hearing loss in their infancy, a hearing test during their school years should discover the problem. Most often, the hearing test administered in school is called the pure-tone test, which will be described below.

The Pure-Tone Test

This test is the one you may remember from school, where you were given a pair of headphones and then a beeping sound would occur on one side or another. The participant is then asked to raise their hand on the side they hear the noise. This exam can also test what the quietest sound you can hear is. For example, you may hear a beeping sound on one side that starts out at a normal speaking level, and then it progressively gets quieter and quieter, until you cannot hear it anymore. That decibel would be the quietest sound you could hear. In addition, some people have a hard time hearing certain frequencies. The pure-tone test can also test which frequencies (if any) you have a hard time hearing. Should someone decline the direction to use headphones, they may be taken to a secure sound booth where the test can be administered over speakers.