A hearing exam tests a person’s ability to hear sounds. Hearing occurs when sound waves move through the nerves of the inner ear to the brain. Sounds vary according to the intensity (volume or loudness) and the pitch (speed of sound vibrations). Intensity of sound is measured in decibels (dB). Pitch of sound is measured in cycles per second (cps) or Hertz (Hz). A hearing exam is also called an audiogram or audiometry.
A hearing exam may be done to:
There are many different types of tests that can be used to check a person’s hearing. Some of them may be used on people of all ages. Others are used based on the person’s age and level of understanding.
There are 3 main types of hearing tests for newborns and infants to about 6 months of age. They may be used alone or together.
This test is painless and is usually completed within a few minutes. The baby will sleep or lay quietly during the test.
The test is painless and can take less than 20 minutes, once the baby is asleep.
This test observes the behaviour of the infant in response to certain sounds. It must be used with ABR or EOAE to accurately determine the baby’s hearing status.
Hearing tests used for toddler include EOAE and ABR, as well as VRA and play audiometry.
This test is used most often for children between 6 months and 3 years of age.
This test requires the child’s cooperation, so it is used with children 3–5 years of age.
The following hearing tests are used for anyone older than 4 years of age.
This test is done to determine how the middle ear is functioning. It doesn’t test the person’s hearing, but helps to detect any changes in pressure in the middle ear.
The doctor will decide whether further tests, procedures, follow-up care or additional treatment is needed.
Being prepared for a test or procedure can reduce anxiety, increase cooperation and help the child develop coping skills. Parents and caregivers can help prepare children by explaining to them what will happen, including what they will see, feel and hear during the test.
The preparation you can provide for this test depends on the age and experience of the child. See the following for more age-specific information on helping children cope with tests and treatment.
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