Are you a parent of a child who has difficulty hearing what you say to them? Do they misinterpret what is being said to them? Do they struggle in school, or do their teachers feel they do not follow instructions? Is their language delayed? Maybe your child has failed a school hearing screening. It is time for a hearing evaluation for your child to see where their hearing level is at.
What to Expect During a Hearing Test
The audiologist will ask you and your child some questions. The audiologist will look in your child’s ears with an otoscope to see the ear canals and eardrums to make sure no ear wax or any other debris is blocking the way to test. The audiologist will also perform a painless test called a tympanogram, which will measure how well your child’s eardrum works to make sure there isn’t any fluid or pressure behind it. For the rest of the testing, your child will be in a quiet room; we like to call a sound booth.
You can let your child know that the test isn’t painful, and they will wear a pair of headphones and listen to some sounds. It is important to talk to your child ahead of time to let them know they need to pay close attention to the sounds and follow the audiologist’s instructions closely. If your child is under five years old, you might have your child try on a pair of headphones before the appointment so they can get used to the way they feel.
Two of the most common hearing tests for children are pure-tone hearing test and speech audiometry testing. During a pure-tone hearing test, the child will hear a series of beeps in their ears, one ear at a time, and the child has to respond by raising their hand or finger even to the faintest tones they hear in a range of frequencies.
A speech audiometry test records the faintest level of words that the child can hear 50% of the time, and speech audiometry can also include speech recognition, which is understanding the clarity of words at a comfortable listening level.
After the exam is completed, the audiologist will have a better understanding of your child’s hearing ability and recommend an appropriate treatment plan or medical intervention. If a child has a wax buildup, the audiologist may take care of the problem in the office.
If the child has a suspected ear infection or another problem that could be causing a temporary hearing loss, also called a conductive hearing loss, the audiologist will refer you to an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat physician) to have the temporary hearing addressed and treated.
Some children do have more permanent hearing loss, also called sensorineural hearing loss, in which medical intervention is not an option. At this point, the audiologist will speak with you about hearing devices and other listening devices to ensure your child can hear clearly again. Hearing loss has a huge impact on speech and language development, as well as education and behavioral issues.
If you are concerned about your child’s hearing, please don’t wait to act. Call an audiologist today to schedule an appointment to have your child’s hearing evaluated.