Detecting Hearing Loss in Children and Adults

Children

Infants are never too young to be evaluated. Using the technology of Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE), a painless test that takes only seconds to perform, we can determine the presence of emissions – a sign of a healthy cochlea or inner ear. Patients with even a mild loss do not have normal emissions, making this a sensitive test for evaluating infants and children.

  • Behavioral hearing evaluations are used with children old enough to respond to sounds by raising their hand, turning their head or playing games.
  • Middle ear tests (Tympanometry / Impedance / Acoustic Reflex) give us information regarding the status of the middle ear – the eardrum, the middle ear space and the tiny bones of hearing that are attached to and move with the eardrum. The presence of middle ear fluid or eardrum perforations can be detected easily with these painless tests.
  • Brain Stem Evoked Response Audiometry is now reserved for those who cannot be assessed by behavioral methods and have abnormal OAE’s.

Did you know that?

  • A child with an unaided mild loss (35-40 dB) may miss up to 50% of classroom discussions.
  • In children with hearing loss, preferential seating alone has proven to provide little or no benefit.
  • About 35% of all children with a unilateral or minimal hearing loss fail a grade (grades 1-6).
  • Those with hearing differences as little as 15 dB between ears cannot localize sounds.
  • Advances in Cochlear Implant technology have made remarkable advances over the last 5 years. Many children with profound losses are now learning speech and language.

Early Detection of hearing loss in children and rehabilitation with medical intervention, hearing aids, or assistive listening devices are critical to a child’s overall development. Hearing is essential for learning speech and language. The critical period for acquiring spoken language is birth to three years of age. Recent research suggests that children with sensorineural hearing loss should be aided by six months of age or linguistic development may be affected permanently. Our Audiology Department has the latest technology that has been designed especially for fitting hearing aids on infants and children.

Persistent conductive and sensorineural hearing loss of mild degrees (greater than 15 dB HL) can have serious effects on speech, language, cognitive, social or other types of development. Hearing loss can often be an invisible disorder to parents and other professionals because many times obvious signs are not available to alert them until valuable time is lost.

Adults

  • Behavioral tests using pure tone audiometry – a simple procedure where the patient responds to tones presented in a sound treated room – enable us to determine if there is a hearing loss present and what type it is.
  • There are two types of hearing losses.
    • The most common type in adults is known as a sensorineural loss. This term implies that the hearing loss is localized in the inner ear (cochlea) or in the nerve that carries the auditory information to the brain. These types of hearing losses are not typically medically or surgically treatable. However, due to tremendous technological advances in the last few years virtually all patients with sensorineural hearing loss can be helped with hearing aids. When hearing aids alone are not enough, our audiologists are trained to provide the necessary audiologic rehabilitation to enhance communication skills and techniques.
    • The other type of hearing loss is known as a conductive hearing loss. It is the result of a disease process within the outer or middle ears.
  • This can impede the mechanical or acoustic transmission of sound vibrations to the cochlea.
    This type of hearing loss accounts for only 5 to 10% of all hearing loss and may be corrected with medical or surgical treatment.

  • Almost one in 10 patients suffer from some degree of hearing loss. That’s why screening for hearing loss should be part of a regular physical examination for patients over the age of forty. Studies show that the earlier a hearing loss is identified, the greater the success for treating it.
  • Some common signs of hearing loss – If you or someone you know –
    • Have to ask to have things repeated
    • Have to strain to follow normal conversation
    • Respond inappropriately to questions
    • Complain of others mumbling
    • Turn up the volume of the TV so high that others complain
    • Have to watch other people’s faces very carefully to follow what they are saying
    • Speak too softly or loudly
    • Withdraw from social activities