Types of Hearing Tests

There are several types of hearing tests for children, depending on their ages.

Otoacoustic Emissions OAE)

A test that measures sounds produced by the inner ear (cochlea). A soft plastic tip is inserted into the baby's ear and a microphone records the responses (otoacoustic emissions) of the ear in reaction to the sounds. There are no emissions with some types of hearing loss. This test is painless and is usually completed within a few minutes, while the baby sleeps or is sitting still. 

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)

test that uses electrodes (wires) attached with adhesive to the baby's head. While the baby sleeps, clicking sounds are made through tiny earphones in the baby's ears. The test measures the pathway of sound from the hearing nerve to the brain stem, which allows us to estimate the child’s hearing activity in response to the sounds.  This test is painless.

ABR testing is used as a screening or an evaluation.  If a screening test identifies that your child has a hearing loss, further testing is needed. It is recommended that all babies with hearing loss be identified by 3 months of age so that treatment can begin before the baby is 6 months old, an important time for speech and language development. 

Visual Reinforcement Audiology

A hearing test used with infants to observe their behavioral response to sounds. During the test, sounds are presented to your infant through speakers or earphones while you hold them in your lap. Your child will turn to the sounds, and animal characters will light up, reinforcing their response.  

Play Audiometry

A test that uses an electrical machine to transmit sounds at different volumes and pitches into your child's ears. Your child usually wears some type of earphones and plays a game such as dropping a ball in a bucket every time the sound is heard. This test relies on the cooperation of the child.

Pure Tone Audiometry

A test that uses an electrical machine that makes sounds at different volumes and pitches in your child's ears. The child wears earphones and either raises his hand or pushes a button when he hears the sounds. 

Tympanometry (also called impedance or admittance)

A test done to help determine how the middle ear and eardrum are working. It does not tell if the child is hearing or not, but helps find any changes in pressure in the middle ear. A soft plastic tip is placed near the ear canal and measures eardrum movement when the pressure changes. The test does not hurt but your child will need to remain still. The test takes only a few minutes per ear. 

For more information, contact the Division of Audiology, 513-636-4236.

Last Updated 04/2016