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Otoacoustic Emission Testing

Otoacoustic Emission Testing

For most people, a hearing test is a pretty simple process. You listen to sounds and the audiologist will identify the level at which you can hear. But what if you have a one-year-old child you suspect may have hearing difficulties? A small child, a developmentally disabled person or someone with functional limitations can’t respond to the traditional hearing test so getting an accurate reading can be a challenge … until now.

At Coshocton Regional Medical Center, Cheryl Barker, Au.D, CCC-A, tests hearing in patients age 6 months through adulthood with new technology called Otoacoustic Emission Testing (OAE). This technology enables us to not only screen children over age 6 months, but also other special populations that were difficult to accurately test under previous screening methods.

OAE is a non-invasive test that measures how the cochlea, the auditory portion of the inner ear, responds to sound. A small plug is placed in the outer ear and soft sounds are presented to the patient. The amount of response is monitored and recorded automatically. With this process, children who are still too small to talk or respond can be accurately tested.

OAE testing is done on children and adults to provide an accurate measurement of cochlear response. It can detect small changes in ear functions often before they’re recognized by the patient. For example, the test is used to monitor oncology patients to alert the oncologist in the event of even minor changes in ear function related to chemotherapy. While this technology greatly expands the age range of those we can test, we begin testing with children six months of age, sending 0-6 month babies to a children’s hospital to be tested with possible sedation techniques if a hearing problem is suspected.

If you have a toddler who suffers from ear infections or isn’t talking as he or she should, or if you notice hearing loss yourself, please see your child’s pediatrician or your family physician. Your physician can request a referral to Dr. Barker for audiology testing. Please call her office at ext. 4143.