How well is your child hearing?
A child who is not able to detect sounds below 15 dB to 40 dB is considered to have a mild hearing loss. Hearing loss differs in individuals in type and in both volume and certain frequencies of sounds it affects. A person may be missing some soft sounds like whispering and some speech in normal conversation, especially with background noise; however, they may be able to hear a helicopter that is miles away.
Conductive hearing loss in the middle ear can be temporary, as it can be from fluid or cerumen build up. Multiple ear infections (Otitis media) and fluid “glue ear” may need to be addressed by an otolaryngologist (ENT doctor) to consider ventilation/myringotomy tubes. Repeated Otitis media can cause permanent damage.
Sensorineural hearing loss affects the inner ear or nerve from the ear to the brain and is permanent damage. It is either congenital or acquired.
A mixed hearing loss occurs when both the middle and inner ear is affected.
It is important for your child to have a full audiological exam by an audiologist, experienced in pediatrics and conducted in a sound proof booth, if they have a speech-language delay. If the child has fluid in their ears it would need to be resolved before the exam.
Infants and toddlers are observed for their responses to sounds presented during Behavioral Audiometry. An older child can respond to sound in a play activity called Conditioned Play Audiometry.
Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) or Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) is a test that checks the brain’s response to sound. Electrodes are placed on the head while the child is sleeping, or in some cases the child would need to be sedated in order to be sure they were still for the duration of the test. It assesses the function of the inner ear, acoustic (hearing) nerve, and part of the brain pathways associated with hearing.
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) is a test that checks the hair cell function of the inner ear to assess if the cochlea responds to sound normally. It does not require a response from the person.
The visual graph was obtained from the healthyhearing.com website.