With all the concerns and problems in today’s society, it is not surprising that there are a growing number of hearing disability patients seeking children’s hearing evaluations. Children experience a hearing loss at an earlier age than most adults, and a hearing screening for children is one way to ensure they do not continue to suffer from this impairment. Statistics indicate that nearly 25 million children in the United States suffer from a form of hearing loss or disability, making it the most prevalent disability among children. The leading causes of this disability are noise-induced hearing loss and earwax accumulation. There are many different forms of hearing loss, but there are also many different reasons for children to experience this impairment, including aging, deafness caused by infections or disease, and others.
The medical term for hearing loss is sensorineural hearing loss, which is the result of damage to the inner ear. The inner workings of the ear are highly sensitive to sounds, so a child who has sensorineural hearing loss hears everything around him as though he were standing in front of soundproof glass. This type of hearing loss can be either primary or secondary. In the primary hearing loss, the cochlea has been damaged, resulting in the person needing assistance to hear external sounds. In secondary hearing loss, the problem is not with the cochlea but with the nerve that carries information between the brain and the inner ear.
Children can have both primary and secondary hearing loss, and each type can have a variety of causes. Some of the primary types of hearing loss involve infections such as ear mites, meningitis, or viral infections. In rare cases, hearing loss is caused by genetic issues. However, even though this is the most common reason for hearing loss, it is not the only reason. In this case, the specialist will conduct a hearing screening to determine the exact cause of the impairment.
After determining the cause of the impairment, the audiologist will conduct a series of tests. During one of these tests, the person’s ability to hear sound is evaluated by measuring the response of the auditory system. The person’s brain responds to auditory stimuli and produces an auditory brainstem response, or AVR when it notices an outside sound. During the screening, the audiologist will use a variety of tests to evaluate the extent of the child’s hearing loss and determine the cause.
During the hearing evaluation, the audiologist may conduct various types of tests to check for brain lesions, brainstem lesions, and the presence of tumors. The pediatric patient’s overall health, as well as the health of the underlying cerebrospinal fluid, may affect the effectiveness of some tests. If there are any complications, these should be addressed during the follow-up period. If the auditory system is not functioning, nerve signals will be interrupted, which can result in temporary or permanent deafness. The duration of the impairment and the frequency of the interruptions will help the audiologist determines the severity of the child’s hearing loss.
The next step involved in the hearing evaluation involves testing the child’s ability to understand spoken speech. This is known as the Speech Assessment Test (SAT) and is usually performed in a situation where there is no other obvious hearing impairment. In this situation, the audiologist will give directions to the child and record his response. The SAT is performed with the use of a control device that plays a series of sounds. The child must respond to the sounds with a verbal response. This control device is typically a small hand-held video game appliance that makes clicking or beating noises.
The third step involves testing for possible cochlear damage using an ABR. The ABR is an audiogram used to measure the amount of acoustic radiation transmitted from the source of the sound, such as the sound of a car speeding, to the inner ear. Cochlear damage is associated with wax buildup in the inner ear. The audiologist will insert a probe into the auditory canal with the use of a high-frequency electrical current. If wax buildup is detected, it will be removed by means of an ultra-sound technique known as the Allopathic Audiometry (AOA).
During the entire process, the audiologist will have the ability to monitor the child’s hearing, language development, and motor skills. The hearing screening will alert the parents to any potential complications that could arise as a result of their child’s hearing loss. It is important that these early screening tests are scheduled annually in order to determine if any further steps need to be taken.