Hearing loss may occur due to a wide variety of causes, which can be both genetic and acquired. When it comes to children it becomes difficult to determine if they have a hearing loss or not unless parents keenly observe their auditory behaviours. This includes their response to loud and soft sounds, name-calling, turning their head in the direction of sounds, etc. While developing, due to a straight ear canal and underdeveloped immune system, children are more prone to ear infections as well which can affect their hearing as well.
If a parent suspects that their child has a hearing loss, it is always advised to consult an Audiologist and get their child’s hearing checked to ensure normal hearing.
Tests to expect
When the child is taken to an Audiologist, there are several tests that the child will have to complete. Audiometry is the test of hearing sensitivity and discrimination ability which measures both air and bone conduction. The child will be asked to listen to the sounds being presented through the response and press the button or raise the finger or even drop a ring depending on their age. Speech audiometry is done to check the child’s ability to hear speech sounds, including consonants and vowels.
Tympanometry is another test which may be performed that assesses the status of the middle ear. It checks for the presence of an ear infection. Acoustic reflex testing determines if there is any brainstem involvement if at all there is a hearing loss.
In addition to these, one can expect otoacoustic emission testing and auditory brainstem response audiometry. Otoacoustic emissions are inaudible sounds produced by the inner ear. They provide information about the cochlear functioning, which is the sensory organ for hearing. Auditory brainstem response audiometry will check for the normal auditory nerve functioning.
Making children calm
Parents must ensure that the children are given support to proceed with the testing and that they can tell what they feel. You can make it easier by talking to them about how fun it would be. Find activities to play with the child and even practice a few things beforehand. Visiting ahead of time and introducing them to the audiologist will also make them feel comfortable.
Questions to ask
Parents can ask about the testing charges and also about the audiologist’s credentials. After the testing, the parents should ask the audiologist for the test results. In case, if the child has a hearing loss, ask the audiologist how to proceed further.
Getting the hearing tested in children must be of utmost priority. Because as they develop a lack of hearing can affect other aspects of development as well including behavioural, social, cognitive and psychological development.