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Your child's appointment

When a child has a hearing loss, they may not hear certain sounds. This might be particular pitches or volume.

Hearing can be affected by problems in:

  • outer parts of the ear (outer ear and ear canal)
  • middle parts of the ear (ear drum, middle ear bones and Eustachian tube)
  • inner parts of the ear (cochlea and the hearing nerve).


Children's hearing is tested in different ways depending on their age and ability. The tests all aim to find the quietest sounds that your child can hear.

The following techniques are available within our service.

Pure Tone Audiogram

This involves pressing a button when a sound is heard, and listening for the very quietest tones through a pair of headphones. Children may be able to perform a test similar to an adult hearing test from about six years of age.

Play Audiometry

From about two and a half to three years of age, we may encourage children to play a game to test their hearing. They wait for a sound and then perform an action in response, for instance, placing a hoop on a stick or a toy into a box.

Visual Reinforcement Audiometry

Younger children from about seven to eight months are tested by two Audiologists. We first teach them that if they turn towards a sound they are rewarded by a light-up toy. We then test whether they can hear quieter sounds by playing sounds into the room with speakers or into their ears using small insert earphones.

Otoacoustic Emissions

Otoacoustic Emissions are reflections recorded in response to a clicking sound played into the ear through a tip. This test is routinely carried out during Newborn Hearing Screening.

Auditory Brainstem Responses and Auditory Steady State Responses

Auditory Brainstem Responses and Auditory Steady State Responses are measurements recorded from the brain in response to certain sounds played through headphones. We can test the hearing of babies or children when they are sleeping. This is the type of test usually carried out when babies are referred for detailed testing after their Newborn Hearing Screen.

Other checks

We attempt to look in the ears of all of children at their appointment, depending on their level of co-operation. We may also try to check the function of their eardrum and middle ear with a quick pressure test (tympanometry). This can indicate if there is any congestion (as found in glue ear).

Less frequently, acoustic reflex checks can also be completed in a similar way if this information is needed.

Sometimes children do not like to have their ears or head touched. It may help to play games with your child at home before the appointment, taking turns to pretend to check your ears and their ears.

If your child is anxious about attending their appointment, please do contact us beforehand - we are happy to answer any questions, and can provide photos and further information if helpful.

Glue ear

One of the most common causes of temporary hearing loss in children is glue ear. This is when fluid or congestion builds up behind the ear drum, preventing sound reaching the inner parts of the ear.

Usually glue ear clears up by itself in time, but some children may require treatment.

Hearing loss can have other causes and can also be permanent, so it is important to have your child's hearing assessed formally if there are any concerns about their hearing or any risk factors for hearing loss.

Next steps

We attempt to look in the ears of all of children at their appointment, depending on their level of co-operation. We may also try to check the function of their eardrum and middle ear with a quick pressure test. This measures for any congestion (as found in glue ear).

If your child has a temporary or permanent hearing loss, we may offer them hearing aids to help with their hearing. We may also offer to refer them to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor or to other professionals for further advice and support with their hearing loss.

Hearing aids

Hearing aids are electronic devices which make it easier to hear sounds and speech. They are programmed to the individual's hearing level, and are specific to that person.

We have different types of hearing aids available to meet individual needs. Most hearing aids have two parts, an earmould and a behind-the-ear hearing aid, and come in a range of colours.

We can also provide bone conduction hearing aids when this is more suitable.

Last reviewed:15 September 2023