The otoacoustic emissions (OAE) test is an objective way to measure hearing loss in young patients. It is widely used in a hospital setting to screen congenital hearing problems in newborns, as well as to identify hearing loss in children up to three years of age.
Hearing Loss in Newborns and Young Children
It is estimated that approximately one to three American babies in a thousand are born with permanent hearing loss. When this occurs, it is usually due to genetic factors or in response to a medical condition affecting the mother during pregnancy, such as diabetes or preeclampsia. In addition, babies born prematurely are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with hearing loss at birth. It is also possible for young children to lose their hearing later. Some experience permanent hearing loss after an illness, such as meningitis, measles, chickenpox, or the flu.
Others after a head injury, exposure to loud noises, and certain medications. A severe and long-lasting ear infection can also lead to permanent hearing loss in children.
If your baby was not diagnosed with hearing loss at birth, you will likely notice something is wrong by their lack of response to sounds later on. Infants and young children who do not react to loud noises or voices should be evaluated for hearing loss.
What to Expect During the OAE Test
The OAE test is performed with a handheld unit and a small probe that is inserted into the child’s ear canal and delivers quiet sounds. If the hair cells located in the inner ear (the cochlea) are functioning normally, they will signal the brain and send otoacoustic emissions in response. Otoacoustic emissions are inaudible sounds that “echo” back to the outer ear, where they can be analyzed and recorded by the OAE handheld unit. In approximately 30 seconds, a test result of “pass” or “refer” will appear on the screen.
The OAE test is a terrific way to detect sensorineural hearing loss in the cochlea or hearing disorders in the inner ear pathway. It can be performed at home, the doctor’s office, or school. The child can be playing or sleeping during the test because it does not require a response.
Contact SFENTA Today
Once your child has been diagnosed with permanent hearing loss, treatment can begin. Contact SFENTA™ today for the OAE diagnostic procedure and get the help you need for your child’s hearing challenges.