Common Types of Hearing Tests
Soundfield (Behavioral) Testing
This method of testing is used to test children. During soundfield testing, sounds are presented to the child via loudspeakers. The audiologist watches the child as he responds to the sounds. In very young children, the audiologist will look for responses such as an eye blink or slight body movement. Older children are trained to turn toward the sound. When turning toward the sound, the child then will see a lighted toy as a reward.
Condition-Play Response Testing
Headphone testing provides the audiologist with information regarding a child’s ability to hear with each ear. Testing usually begins by finding the softest level at which the individual is able to repeat words or point to pictures. The child then is taught to respond to the sounds of various pitches by raising his hand or by performing an act such as dropping a block into a container. This test is referred to as an audiogram and evaluates the child's ability to hear certain sound frequencies.
Bone Conduction Testing
Bone conduction testing evaluates the function of the inner ear or nerve portion of the ear. A small vibrator is placed behind the child's ear and he is asked to repeat or identify words or respond to sounds of different frequencies. The results of this test are compared to results obtained under headphones or through loudspeakers to help the audiologist identify the type of hearing loss.
Immittance testing, often referred to as a tympanometry, provides information regarding eardrum mobility and middle ear function. A small plastic tip is placed in the child's ear to make an airtight seal. Changes in air pressure are made and measures are taken. If the child has ear tubes, this test helps determine if the tubes are in place, open, and working properly. If the child does not have tubes, this test helps determine if there are any signs of fluid or other problems in the middle ear. Reflex action of the ear (acoustic reflexes) also is measured with immittance testing.