Audiologists can measure the status of your child’s outer middle and inner ear, and can refer you for further medical management, if required.
Perhaps you recall your child had a hearing test at birth. Or perhaps there was so much going on that it seems like a distant memory. Most children do have their hearing screened at birth by an audiologist, but it depends on the hospital protocol. The test that is done at birth is a screening test to exclude significant hearing loss, but it is certainly worthwhile to repeat the hearing test several times as your child ages. Ideally, your child should have their hearing tested at birth, at one year, at three years and at five years of age. This should be done by an audiologist. Hearing loss can be mild, moderate or severe in severity, or may only occur at certain frequencies.
The use of a simple, quick test called an OAE (otoacoustic emission). A small probe is inserted in your child’s ear canal and echoes are measured back from the inner ear (cochlea). If the structure of the hearing organ is healthy, then the ear gives off strong echoes (emissions), which are measured by the equipment. Various frequencies can be measured, and this test can even be done on new-born babies. As your child ages, they should have regular hearing tests (at birth and at ages 1, 3 and 5) which use more behavioural measurements. Regular hearing tests are important to monitor your child’s hearing health.
Middle ear infections (otitis media) are one of the most common illnesses amongst children under the age of 5! During the infection the child’s middle ear is filled with fluid. This causes a distortion in the sound reaching the child’s inner ear. As a result your child experiences a temporary hearing loss. Here are some signs of possible ear infection: mild or severe ear pain, pulling at ears, fever, discharge from the ear, loss of appetite, vomiting, irritability, trouble sleeping or crying when lying down, balance problems. Some children may have no symptoms at all.