Children’s Hearing Test

A hearing test for children is a specialized examination that assesses a child’s ability to hear and interpret sounds. The test is typically performed by an audiologist or other hearing specialist and is non-invasive, painless, and safe.

Why Children’s Hearing Test Is Important?

The first years of life are crucial for a child learn to understand speech and to speak themselves. If listening is not well developed during the critical language learning years, a child’s ability to learn and use speech input is likely to deteriorate.

One of the most common childhood pathologies is otitis media (ear infection). The immediate impacts of otitis media can include fluctuating conductive hearing loss and impaired speech intelligibility. The child might talk later and less than is normal for their age or words might be mispronounced. A subtler consequence, present years after the otitis media clears, includes disruptions to sound processing (auditory skills), if compromised in school-age children, may have negative ramifications not only on classroom listening and academic performance, but also the child might begin to have behavioural trouble as a consequence of their frustration.

Making sure your child is able to hear the sounds of speech properly at every stage of their lives will allow them to thrive in communicating with other people and a better chance to have a successful social and academic journey in the future.

 

Hearing test for childrens
infant have a hearing loss

What are some signs that your infant/toddler might have a hearing problem?

  • Your baby does not react to loud sounds
  • Your baby does not seek out or detect where sound is coming from
  • Your baby has stopped babbling and experimenting with making sounds
  • Your baby still babbles but is not moving to more understandable speech
  • Your baby does not react to voices, even when being held
  • Your baby’s Maternal and Child Health Nurse, GP or other health professional is worried about their hearing or speech and language development
  • You just have a feeling, but you cannot put your finger on what your concern is

What are some signs that your young child might have a hearing problem?

  • Your child says “What?” more often / Lots of repeats
  • Your child does not detect where the sound is coming from
  • Your child seems off or not paying attention
  • Your child ‘s speech is delayed or non-existing
  • Your child seems to hear fine some of the time and then not respond at other times
  • Your child wants the TV volume louder than other members of the family
  • Your child’s childcare educator or teacher notices that they do not seem to hear or respond as well in the classroom as other children
  • Your child misunderstands commands that were previously understood correctly
  • Your child says that they didn’t hear you. This may seem obvious, but many parents assume that their children are not paying attention when in fact there may be an unidentified hearing loss
  • Your child starts to speak more loudly than previously
  • If your child looks at you intensely when you speak to them, as if concentrating, they may be depending more on visual cues for interpreting speech
  • Your child’s Maternal and Child Health Nurse, GP or other health professional is worried about their hearing or speech and language development
  • You just have a feeling, but you cannot put your finger on what your concern is

Hearing Test for Young Childrens

Hearing tests performed in young children can determine whether the child has sufficient hearing for normal speech and language development. There are different ways in which we can perform young children hearing test depending on their different developmental stages:

Visual Reinforcement Audiometry (VRA)

This test is used for children aged around 7 months to 3 years. The child is taught to turn towards a puppet reward when they hear a sound. During the test we play sounds of different frequencies and note when the child turns. The child will soon learn that when they hear a sound, a reward is there when they turn their head.

As this test is performed in the free field, not administered under headphones, information will be obtained for the better hearing ear and hearing in general. Therefore, this test cannot eliminate a mild hearing loss or a hearing loss in one ear only. Ear specific information relating to a potential hearing loss in either ear is available once the child is mature enough to perform Play Audiometry.

Visual Reinforcement Audiometry (VRA)<br />
Play Audiometry test is used for children from around 3 years of age

Play Audiometry

This test is used for children from around 3 years of age. The child will play a ‘hearing game’ where we teach the child to do an action when they hear a tone through a headphone. There are different games we can play, for example, putting a toy in a bucket or a marble into a marble run. Making a game of the testing ensures a longer interest, and will help provide more reliable test results.

Tympanometry Test

This test shows how well your child’s middle ear is working by measuring the movement of the eardrum. It is a quick and painless test which will help to identify if there is a perforation in the eardrum, presence of middle ear fluid, patent grommet, Eustachian tube dysfunction, or other medical conditions.

Tympanometry Test for kids
Hearing loss in children

Causes of Hearing Loss in Children

Even though approximately 60% of childhood hearing losses are related to genetic causes, there are various other causes of hearing loss in children that can be treated or prevented, such as otitis media (ear infection), meningitis, or other infections.

Common causes of ACQUIRED hearing loss in children

Otitis Media (Ear Infections): The reason why this is a very common condition in young children, especially children between 6 months and 2 years, is the fact that not only little children are more suitable for upper respiratory tract infections due to immature immune system, but also, they present immature ear structures as well as their drainage system. As a consequence, the Eustachian tube function is impaired, and fluid accumulates behind the eardrum in the middle ear space creating a temporary conductive hearing loss. Otitis media is often linked to cold symptoms, especially during the winter season. If not treated appropriately, it can have a direct impact on the child’s abilities to develop speech and language adequately.

Trauma: Head trauma occurs very frequently in children. It can affect hearing or even balance when there’s trauma to bones that protect the inner ear space and hearing organs (Temporal bones) causing fractures or penetrating injuries to the inner ear. Trauma to the eardrum itself caused by a foreign object or barotrauma (caused by a pressure difference between the air and the middle ear space) can lead to hearing loss as well.

Meningitis: It is an inflammatory response of the fluid and membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord which can be caused by many different pathogens including virus, fungi, and parasites. However, cases presenting worse symptoms are usually caused by bacteria, which affects children the most. It can cause not only permanent damage to hearing, but also can lead to serious long-term complications.

Ototoxic Drugs: Some medications if used for certain periods of time can damage the hearing organ causing hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), and balance disorders. The most common ototoxic agents are aminoglycosides which are a class of antibiotics, but other drugs can also affect hearing, for example, some chemotherapeutic agents. Even though research continues on ways to prevent ototoxicity, children who need serious health conditions treatments (i.e., severe infections, chemotherapy treatment) are more at risk.

Common CONGENITAL causes of hearing loss

Most congenital hearing losses have genetic origin which can be syndromic or non-syndromic related. Isolated hearing losses are mostly related to gene mutations (i.e., Connexin 26/30), however, there can be other causes, for example, complications before, during or after birth: anoxia (lack of oxygen), prematurity, maternal and newborn infections (i.e., cCVM – Congenital Cytomegalovirus, rubella, toxoplasmosis) among others. Many syndromes will be determined or picked up after hearing loss is identified as one of the main characteristics of the syndrome itself. Examples of syndromes associated with hearing loss can be:

Down Syndrome: Conductive hearing loss is considered the most common type of hearing loss associated with Down Syndrome because these children often have narrow ear canals and present fluid in the middle ear space. Combined with intellectual impairment hearing loss can have a significant impact upon language acquisition.

Usher Syndrome: Rare genetic disease characterised by congenital hearing loss and visual impairment, which can limit the child’s communication and social abilities even more.

Waardenburg Syndrome: Presents hearing loss of some degree that can be congenital or have later onset. The child looks different from other members of the family and present pigment abnormalities. It can be inherited or new in the family.

Pendred Syndrome: Frequent symptoms of this syndrome are congenital hearing loss due to inner ear abnormalities (i.e., widened vestibular aqueduct) and enlargement of the thyroid gland (known as Goitre) that leads to hypothyroidism later in childhood. Sudden changes in the concentration in salts in the inner ear can cause a rapid deterioration in hearing of children who present this syndrome. Therefore, once this is detected some precaution must be taken related to specific activities such as diving or climbing big mountains, for example, and avoid head trauma.

Treacher Collins: Characterized by peculiar abnormalities of the head and face, children with this rare syndrome will also present anomalies of external and middle ear structures, which may result in hearing loss.

Childrens Hearing Test FAQs

Who can use this service in our clinics?

Infants (7+ months), toddlers and young children.

Do I need a referral for Childrens Hearing Test?

No. You can access this service without a referral.

What is ear fluid?

Ear fluid, also called otitis media, is a build-up of fluid behind the eardrum, without ear infection noticeable symptoms. Almost all children get ear fluid at least once by school age.

How can I tell if my child has fluid in their ears?

You might not be able to tell. Some children with otitis media have obvious hearing problems, but other children might have no symptoms at all or subtler findings such as ear rubbing, clumsiness, selective hearing, disturbed sleep. Your audiologist or GP can detect ear fluid by looking in the ear canal (otoscopy) or by measuring the movement of the eardrum (tympanometry).

What causes ear fluid?

Ear fluid may be caused by a cold, ear infection, or normal congestion (negative pressure) that many young children have. Often ear fluid is detected during a routine doctor’s visit, and the exact cause may be unknown.

Should I worry if my child has ear fluid?

Most fluid goes away on its own in weeks or months, particularly if it was caused by a cold or an ear infection. Otitis media is of more concern if it lasts more than 3 months or when your child has other problems that could be made worse by persistent ear fluid, for example, delays in speech, language, learning, or development. Your GP should check the ears periodically until the fluid is gone.

map of Ear and Hearing Clinics

Children’s Hearing Test in Melbourne

Ear & Hearing Australia employ only university qualified audiologists able to perform comprehensive hearing tests and audiological assessments for children (aged 6 months+), including tailored hearing rehabilitation programs for hard of hearing children.

We provide hearing tests at our conveniently located clinics in Melbourne*. So if you’re looking for audiologists in Melbourne come in and visit our highly experienced and highly dedicated team.

*Some spcialised tests/services may be provided only at selected clinics.