When traditional “behavioral” hearing tests – responding to tones – don’t provide enough information, other testing methods must be considered. Otoacoustic Emission (OAE) testing is one non-behavioral test that can be used.
In this procedure, a small tip (probe) is placed into the ear to deliver sound into the canal. When the inner eat is functioning normally, it actually emits its own sound – an echo – which is measured by the probe. These emissions or echoes must be present at a certain intensity level at several frequencies to pass the test. OAE testing can indicate to your Audiologist whether or not an individual’s hearing is adequate for speech comprehension.
This test is for patients of all ages, but it’s especially useful for small children because it usually only takes a few minutes to complete. It’s become a widely-used tool for newborn hearing screenings in hospitals.