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Types of hearing tests for children - objective testing

The type of test used by a clinician to assess a child’s hearing is much dependent upon their developmental age. 

Objective tests

These tests are mostly carried out on babies and are very similar to those which form part of the Newborn Hearing Screen. They often require the child to be asleep or still.

Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE)

This test is the initial test completed in the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme. However, it can also be used throughout routine Audiology. An OAE is the response from the inner ear to a sound stimulus. This OAE response is measured by a small tip placed at the entrance of the ear canal. The test can be affected by wax and middle ear pathology (such as glue ear).

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)

For this test, the skin is first cleaned with a gel and then sticky sensors are placed behind each ear and on the forehead. Different pitches of sound are then played via small earphones with foam tips, whilst the baby sleeps. The test enables us to assess the whole hearing pathway up to the brainstem level.

Corticals

For this test, the skin is first cleaned with a gel and then sticky sensors are placed behind each ear and on the forehead. Different pitches of sound are then played via small earphones with foam tips. The test enables us to assess the whole hearing pathway up to the cortex in the brain. This assessment will require your child to be awake and alert, often completing a simple quiet task.

Tympanometry

Tympaonmetry assesses the middle ear status and eardrum movement. This is achieved by a tip being placed at the entrance of the ear canal. The pressure is then gently changed in the ear canal and the movement of the eardrum is measured by the tip. The Audiologist will review the eardrum movement and collate with your child’s hearing assessment results. 

Tympanometry is often used in children as it will highlight whether they have middle ear effusion (e.g. glue ear), which is a common cause of hearing difficulty in children and requires active monitoring.

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