Hearing Tests, Pediatric

    Learn more about our Patient Engagement products now! Turn your patients into active participants in their healthcare by giving them easy access to the same evidence-based information you trust – but delivered in an easy-to-understand format.

    Hearing Tests, Pediatric

    Hearing Tests, Pediatric

    A hearing test is done to check for hearing loss in one or both ears. A hearing screening is a quick and easy test. If your child passes the screening, they do not have hearing loss. If the results show that there may be an issue, your child may need to see an expert in hearing loss (pediatric audiologist) to have more tests done.

    Hearing loss can affect your child's ability to learn to speak and to reach other development goals. Knowing early about hearing loss can help your child's health care provider take steps to treat the issue.

    What kinds of hearing tests are there?

    A young child being tested for hearing issues.

    There are many types of hearing tests. Hearing is measured in decibels (dB). The tests may be done when your child is a baby or when they are a little older.

    Hearing tests for babies

    Babies are often screened with:
    • Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) testing. This test uses an earphone to measure OAEs. It checks how the inner ear responds to sound.
    • Automated auditory brainstem response (AABR) testing. This test also checks how the inner ear responds to sound. It uses probes put in the ears and electrodes put on the head and neck. This test is done in a quiet room. Your child must stay very still. This may be done:
      • While your child naps.
      • After your child has been given medicine to make them fall asleep (anesthesia). This may be needed if your child has a hard time staying still.
      • While your older child is awake if they can sit quietly and not move.

    Hearing tests for older children

    Your older child may also have:
    • Pure-tone testing. This test records the softest tones that your child can hear at different pitches. Your child may wear earphones and be asked to raise a hand or push a button after hearing the tone.
    • Speech testing. This test records the faintest speech sounds that your child can hear. It also tests your child's ability to hear words and say them back at a normal speaking level.
    • Tests of the middle ear, such as tympanometry. These tests show if there is:
      • Fluid in your child's middle ear.
      • Wax in the ear.
      • Issues with the eardrum, muscles, or how air flows through the middle ear.

    How is a hearing test done?

    A newborn's hearing being tested.

    Most babies get hearing screenings in the hospital before they go home after birth. Most children get hearing screenings at school and at checkups with a provider. Many hearing tests are done in a room with special equipment. Some tests are done in a loud place to see if your child can block out background noise. This includes speech tests.

    For more testing, your child may need to see a pediatric audiologist. They will:
    • Ask about your child's symptoms and medical history.
    • Check inside your child's ears with a lighted tool (otoscope).

    What should I do to prepare my child for a hearing test?

    • If your child is getting anesthesia for an AABR test, talk to your child's provider about how to prepare for the test. Follow instructions from the provider about what your child may eat and drink.
    • Keep your child away from loud noises for several hours before the test.
    • Before the test, let the provider know if your child has:
      • A cold or an ear infection.
      • Wax in their ears.
      • A recent injury.
      • Recent exposure to noise. This includes listening to loud music with headphones.
      • Medical symptoms. These may include a headache, memory problems, or fatigue.

    What questions should I ask before and after the test?

    • How will my child's testing be done?
    • What are the risks of the test?
    • When will I get the results?
    • Can you explain the test results?
    • Will my child need more testing?

    This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

    Small Elsevier Logo

    Cookies are used by this site. To decline or learn more, visit our cookie notice.

    Copyright © 2024 Elsevier, its licensors, and contributors. All rights are reserved, including those for text and data mining, AI training, and similar technologies.

    Small Elsevier Logo
    RELX Group