Paediatric Hearing Testing

Your child may be referred at any stage by a health professional for a hearing test if there are any concerns about their hearing or language development.

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They may also be listed for targeted 8 month review from the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme. Children at school may also be referred following a hearing screening test carried out by the school nurse (usually in school year 1)

Appointments are offered within 6 weeks of receipt of the referral or around 8 months of corrected age for NHSP referrals

Initial appointments are offered either in the main audiology department at RD&E Hospital or at a convenient locality clinic. For more detailed tests it may be necessary to attend the main hospital site. For younger children testing is carried out by 2 audiologists but for children over 3 ½ years old generally only 1 audiologist is present.

Testing children under 3½ years of age

The hearing test usually takes about half an hour, and will be appropriate to the age and abilities of your child. It will be carried out by 2 audiologists. For babies and younger children this may involve measuring the levels at which they turn to different sounds. For slightly older children other responses to sound may be used, e.g. putting bricks in a box. Sometimes the testing may include simple language based tasks.

We will ask you some questions about your child’s hearing and speech, and other relevant aspects of their health and development. The assessment may also include examination of the ears and a measurement to check whether there is congestion in the middle ears.

We hope the experience will prove enjoyable for you and your child. It would help us if your child is alert and ready to participate in the testing when they arrive. To minimise distraction, it would help if other children are not present during the test.

Testing children over 3½ years of age

The hearing assessment takes about half an hour and will be carried out by an audiologist. Your child will be asked to respond to different sounds heard through headphones. The type of response will vary depending on age and ability, and may include putting bricks in a box, or tapping the table with a stick each time a sound is heard.

We will ask you some questions about your child’s hearing and speech, and other relevant aspects of their health and development. The assessment may also include examination of the ears and a measurement to check whether there is congestion in the middle ears.

We hope the experience will prove enjoyable for you and your child. It would help us if your child is alert and ready to participate in the testing when they arrive. To minimise distraction, it would help if other children are not present during the test.

Results

The results of the hearing test will be discussed with you at the end of the appointment.

Where results are satisfactory your child will be discharged with results being sent back to the referrer and copied to you. If you have concerns about your child’s hearing in future you can ask the GP, Health Visitor or School Nurse to re-refer.

The most common hearing loss in children is temporary and is caused by fluid in the middle ear (glue ear), often following on from a cold. Hearing thresholds may be mildly or moderately raised. This usually resolves within a few weeks but in some children can persist for longer periods of time. Where this happens in addition to hearing loss there may be some delay in language development or poor progress at school. Hearing in these cases needs to be monitored, and usually referral is also made to specialist Ear Nose Throat doctors within the hospital who may offer surgical intervention.

If a permanent hearing loss is suspected or identified your child will be offered further hearing tests and referral to other specialist doctors within the hospital. Hearing aids may be offered to help your child hear more clearly