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Pediatric Audiology

Pediatric Audiology & Hearing Services

Pediatric Audiology

The Audiology program at Oregon Ear Nose and Throat Center provides comprehensive evaluation and management for infants, children and adults with hearing loss. Pediatric audiologists are state licensed, nationally certified and hold doctorate or master’s degrees in audiology.

No child is too young to have their hearing tested. Children acquire a significant amount of language from listening to the speech and language of others. If a hearing loss is present, especially during the first few years of life, the child is deprived much of the language learning opportunity. Early diagnosis of hearing loss in children is critical for proper speech and language development. If your child has hearing loss or you suspect your child has hearing loss, forming a strong and comfortable relationship with an audiologist is a crucial step in helping your child achieve optimum communication skills.

Children with hearing loss who begin working with a qualified audiologist early in their life, adjust significantly better to life in a hearing world than children who don’t and many causes of pediatric hearing loss are treatable. We have worked with many young children and their parents and encourage you to contact the Oregon Ear Nose and Throat Center today.

Hearing Services

Our Audiology Program provides the following services:

  • Hearing screening for newborns using Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) and Automated Auditory Brainstem Response (AABR).
  • Comprehensive Audiologic Evaluations including:
    • Visual Reinforcement Audiometry – Sounds are presented through speakers or earphones and the child responds by turning his head toward the sound. The audiologist lights a toy for a reward.
    • Conditioned Play Audiometry - The child plays a game with the audiologist in which he places a toy in a bucket each time he ears a sound.
    • Speech Audiometry - The child repeats words or points to pictures to determine the softest speech sounds he is able to hear and how well he understands a number of words and sounds at a comfortable volume level
    • Traditional audiometry – An older child raises his hand when he hears a sound.
  • Diagnostic Auditory Brainstem Response Testing for infants and children – Specialized testing for very young infants or older children who cannot be tested with other methods. Sounds are presented through earphones while a child is sleeping and a brainwave response is measured. Because sleep is required for this test, sedation is typically used for older infants and children.
  • Diagnostic Otoacoustic Emissions Testing – Tones are presented through an earphone and an inner ear response is measured with a tiny microphone.
  • Tympanometry – a test of the middle ear function.
  • Hearing Aid Evaluations – Determination of the most appropriate hearing aids and technology options for a child with a permanent hearing loss.
  • Earmolds - Audiologists make impressions of the ears for molds to be formed for the hearing aids.
  • Hearing Aid Fitting, Dispensing, Follow-up, Repairs – We fit and dispense hearing aids for all ages, including babies as young as 2 months of age! Today’s digital hearing aids are programmed for a child’s individual hearing loss through a computer with settings based on pediatric research for optimum sound awareness and learning. Through follow-up, hearing aid performance is measured so the best fitting for the child is obtained. We provide education throughout the process on use and care of hearing aids, communication strategies, educational options and family counseling on the effects of hearing loss.
  • FM system Fitting, Dispensing, Follow-up, Repairs – Specialized communication devices useful to improve hearing speech above background noise.
  • Counseling, advocacy and follow-up for the family on the effects of hearing loss.

Types of Pediatric Hearing Loss

Conductive

Conductive hearing loss is the most common form seen in children. This type of hearing issues is associated with the external or middle ear. Many of these conditions are treatable and include:

  • ear infection
  • Otitis Media
  • fluid in the ear
  • impacted ear wax
  • a perforated ear drum
  • a foreign object in the canal
  • birth defects that alter the canal.


Sensorineural or Acquired Hearing loss

Acquired hearing loss is a hearing loss which appears after birth, at any time in one’s life, perhaps as a result of a disease, a condition, or an injury. The following are examples of conditions that can cause acquired hearing loss in children are:

  • Ear infections (otitis media)-(see specific section above)
  • Ototoxic (damaging to the auditory system) drugs
  • Meningitis
  • Measles
  • Encephalitis
  • Chicken pox
  • Influenza
  • Mumps
  • Head injury
  • Noise exposure

Most of the time, sensorineural hearing loss cannot be medically or surgically corrected however working with an Audiologist for timely testing, diagnosis and treatment will naturally provide your child with the best possible outcome.

How old must a baby be to be tested for a hearing disorder?

A baby can be tested within hours of being born to determine if there is hearing loss and to what degree. At Oregon Ear Nose and Throat Center, we evaluate babies from a few weeks old up until 21 years of age.

Must my child be sedated before a hearing test?

Routine hearing tests do not require sedation. During a hearing test, we evaluate each child’s ability to respond to sounds so he/she needs to be awake and alert. When we evaluate babies, we try to test them during a time when they are sleepy and fed so they are not cranky or crying. Very rarely do we need to sedate a child prior to a hearing test.

Could my baby/child be at risk for developing a hearing loss?

There are a number of factors that could put your baby or young child at risk for a hearing loss. These include being born prematurely (before 38 weeks of pregnancy) or spending more than five days in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) after birth. Other risk factors include a family history of hearing loss; a neurodegenerative disorder; a culture-positive post-natal (after birth) infection, such as meningitis, herpes virus, or varicella; treatment with chemotherapy or antibiotics; or a traumatic head injury. Older children may suffer a hearing loss from a skull-based or temporal bone fracture of the head that requires hospitalization, such as an injury that occurs from a motor vehicle accident or from roller skating, skateboarding, or riding a bike without a helmet.

Why does my child need a hearing test before a speech-language evaluation?

IHearing aids are as essential for a child to hear as eyeglasses are to correct a vision problem. Depending on your child’s degree of hearing loss and the recommendations of our audiologist and an educational audiologist affiliated with your child’s school, we may advise that your child use a personal FM system to help your child hear his/her teacher more clearly in the classroom.

What other hearing assistance will help my child in school?

Some children must be given extra time to take tests. Others need a teacher of the deaf or hard-of-hearing. Your school’s child-study team or educational audiologist will advise you about these services. Every school’s goal is to keep a child with a hearing loss in a regular classroom with his/her peers as much as possible. Special school placement is usually not necessary for children with hearing loss.