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.