Next Generation Hearing

Paediatric Audiology

Hearing tests for children.

At BestHear we offer comprehensive hearing tests for children 3 years old and over. These tests are undertaken by our chief paediatric audiologist who has extensive NHS experience working with children of all ages.

Causes of Hearing Loss in Children.

Hearing loss in children can occur for a variety of reasons. Most commonly colds can lead to a condition known as ‘glue ear’ which is a build up of catarrh behind the eardrum, which can cause a temporary deterioration in your child’s hearing- quite similar to the sensation of hearing loss due to air pressure on planes.

Often this is not a long-term problem, and as the cold subsides the hearing can return to normal without any intervention needed. However, in some cases ‘glue ear’ can be a recurring issue requiring regular monitoring, and appropriate treatment options such as the use of effective communication tactics, ‘grommet surgery’ and/or hearing aids.

Other causes of childhood hearing loss can be permanent in nature either due to genetic and/or acquired diseases. This usually manifests quite early on and is often picked up by hearing tests performed in the hospital before babies are discharged as well as during primary school hearing screens. A summary of the most common causes of childhood hearing loss are as follows:

  • Glue Ear – a build up of catarrh in the middle ear space behind the eardrum. Perhaps the most common cause affecting 1 in 5 children before the age of 5.

  • Infections that occur in the womb or soon after birth- this can cause what is known as late onset and progressive permanent hearing loss.

  • Inherited conditions (congenital), such as Neurofibromatosis (type 2), Turner’s Syndrome, Otosclerosis etc.

  • Hearing loss due to severe head injury, exposure to loud noises, or head surgery.

  • Illnesses such as bacterial meningitis, encephalitis etc.

Common signs of possible hearing difficulty in children.

  • Sudden change in behaviour- consistently not respond to name when called, especially in the presence of background noise.

  • Asking for the television/tablet volume to be raised up high.

  • Speaking with a loud voice.
  • Speech delay/difficulty.
  • Mispronouncing specific speech sounds.
  • Not progressing well in school.

  • Your child is looking attentively at your lips when you talk to them.

  • Your child becomes particularly upset often cupping their hands over the ears when certain otherwise tolerable loud sounds arise i.e. vacuum cleaners, children screaming/shouting, hair & hand dryers, motorcycles etc.

Tests we can perform for your child:

Play Audiometry.

Children around 3 years old until 7-8 years old can be tested more easily using a technique known as Play Audiometry. This involves conditioning a child to respond to sounds following a specific assigned play task, with clear rules and goals.

This keeps them motivated throughout testing and increases test reliability. It is essential that this process is performed by an experienced and specialist Audiologist who can keep a careful eye on your child during testing to ensure the subjective responses are reliable and trustworthy.

Pure tone audiometry (PTA).

Older children from the age 9 years old and over may prefer being tested with traditional pure tone audiometry, using a response button as used by adults. The test involves a combination of using TDH headphones over the ears, and a bone vibrating headphone that sits behind the ear on the mastoid bone, and delivers sounds gently directly to the inner ear.

This allows the origin of your child’s hearing loss to be determined, and can verify if the hearing loss is occurring solely in the middle ear space (i.e. due to ‘glue ear) and/or within the nerves of the inner ear or cochlear.

Tympanometry.

Tympanometry is a test used to determine how well the eardrum is moving, if there is any perforation on the eardrum, and importantly if there is a build up of ‘glue ear’ behind the eardrum.

This test does not show however how thick or viscous the glue ear is, or to what extent the glue ear is affecting your child’s hearing. A combination of a subjective audiometry test and objective tympanometry test is needed to determine this.

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