Hearing Exams in Pre-schoolers

In children between 3 and 5 years of age, hearing screening can help identify hearing loss that may affect development, interfere with future performance in school, or indicate a medical condition (e.g., middle or inner ear disorder).

Conditioned play audiometry (CPA), in which the child is instructed to perform a fun activity (e.g., putting a peg into a hole or a ring onto a cone) each time he or she hears a sound, is the hearing test used most often in this age group. Other tests may be performed to detect outer or middle ear disorders. These tests (called acoustic immittance screening) include tympanometry, acoustic reflex, and static acoustic impedance.

In tympanometry, air is introduced into the ear canal to make the eardrum (tympanic membrane) move back and forth and a special device is used to measure the mobility of the eardrum. This hearing test can be used to determine if the eardrum is functioning normally, or if it is too tight or too lose.

Acoustic reflex tests are used to measure the response of a tiny ear muscle to sound. This muscle normally contracts when a loud sound is heard. Static acoustic tests measure the volume of air within the ear canal. This test can be used to help diagnose a perforated (ruptured) eardrum.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 27 Aug 2008

Last Modified: 18 Sep 2015