There are different kinds of hearing tests for evaluating different portions of the ear. Different tests are used for people of different age groups. Here I have discussed about the different kinds of tests that are used for newborns, infants, toddlers, older children and adults.
Tests for newborns
There are two main kinds of hearing screening procedures for newborns-EOAE and ABR. In the first one, a flexible and tiny plug is usually inserted into the ear. Sounds are sent via the plug. The microphone in the plug records the responses of the ear in reaction to the sounds. The screening procedure generally takes a few minutes and is a painless affair. In the ABR test, electrodes are used. They are attached with adhesive to the scalp of the baby. When the baby sleeps, some clicking sounds are made via earphones in the ears of the baby. The activity of the brain is measured in response to sounds in the test. This test too takes only a few minutes and is a painless affair.
Tests for infants
The behavioral audiometry is a paediatric hearing test, which is used for observing the behavior of infants in response to some particular sounds.
Tests for toddlers
Play audiometry and VRA are the two different hearing screening methods that are used for toddlers. In play audiometry, an electrical device is used for transmitting sounds at varying pitches and volumes into the child’s ears. The child wears some kind of earphones. The test is made into a form of game. The toddler is basically asked to perform something with the toy that he or she is given every time the sound is heard. The analysis depends upon the child’s cooperation, which is not always given. In VRA, the toddler is trained to look toward a source of sound. When the child gives the right response, he or she is rewarded through a visual reinforcement like a toy which moves.
Tests for older children
Evaluation of hearing for children over 3-4 years of age may include pure tone audiometry. This is a test that requires your child to respond to the sound by pressing a button or raising a hand. Sounds at different pitches and volumes are presented through the headphones.
Tests for adults
The hearing screening tests for adults are quite different from the one’s mentioned above.
Tympanometry-This is a test which determines how the middle ear is performing. It doesn’t tell whether the adult is hearing but helps in detecting any change in pressure in mid-ear. It is a difficult test to do in children because they need to sit still without moving, talking or crying.
Speech perception-It involves testing your skill to hear words without the use of any visual information. The words are generally played through headphones or a speaker. Sometimes, people are even asked to listen to the words while there is some level of background noise.
Whispered voice test-It involves the tester blocking one of your ears and testing your hearing ability by whispering the words at different volumes. You will actually be asked to repeat the words loud as you hear them.