There are a number of tests that help us prevent, locate and treat your child's ear problems. The audiologist on the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Craniofacial team will discuss your child's tests with you and tell you how you can prepare your child for them.
Here are some of the most common tests:
Tympanometry test: measures pressure in the middle ear and how the eardrum reacts to pressure changes. It can also find holes in the eardrum and show if tubes are working properly. This test may be done on newborns, but it works better for children who are at least 7 months old. It will not hurt.
Otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) test: records how the inner ear responds to sound. A series of tones are played through a small tip that is placed in the ear. The inner ear responds by emitting tones of its own. The test takes only a few minutes, and your child must remain still. It will not hurt.
Auditory brainstem response (ABR) test: measures the response of the brainstem (the base of the brain) to sound. In an ABR, electrodes are placed on your child's forehead and behind his ears.
- Electrodes are soft pads that are connected to the ABR machine by covered wires. Electrodes will not hurt or shock your child.
- A clicking signal is presented through the earphones, and a computer records the brainstem's response and measures the hearing level of each ear.
- The test takes up to an hour, and your child must remain completely still the whole time. Most children are given medicine to help them sleep during the test.
Behavioral tests: measure hearing by the way that a person responds to sound. They can be done with children as young as 6 months old. There are many types of behavioral tests. The test your child has depends mostly on his age:
- Your child may sit on your lap while sounds are played through speakers. When your child turns toward the sound, a toy moves above the speaker that made the sound.
- Your child may play a listening game such as dropping a block in a bucket when he hears a sound.
- Older children may wear earphones and raise their hands when they hear tones.
- A behavioral test requires your child's interest. If your child is fussy or distracted, it may take several sessions to complete a test.
After your child's hearing is tested, your audiologist will discuss the results with you. He will also discuss treatment options with you and your Craniofacial team at Children's.
If you have any questions about your child's ears, hearing or hearing tests, please feel free to ask your audiologist.