Hearing Screening

Hearing loss is a prevalent chronic condition among of all ages. It is recognized that hearing loss increases as a function of age, especially for frequencies at 2000 Hz and above. 

  • Infant - Hearing Screening
  • Child - Hearing Screening
  • Adult - Hearing Screening


It is important to have your baby's hearing checked!

All babies born at Saint Mary's Hospital have a hearing screen prior to discharge from the newborn nursery. This is done via Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE).

  • OAEs are a measure of sensory status of the inner ear. A tiny microphone is placed in the ear, which emits a soft sound. This sound stimulates the inner ear to respond and the response (i.e. emission) is recorded on a computer. Present emissions suggest normal to near normal hearing in most individuals.
  • Any baby that does not pass his/her initial hearing screen is referred to Ministry Medical Group's Audiology Department for further testing. This should not be cause for alarm. In most cases, an initial referred test is due to debris in the ear canal, fluid in the ear, or a noisy baby. Most babies ultimately pass the hearing screen when they are retested.
  • Ministry Medical Group and Saint Mary's Hospital are proud to participate in the WE-TRAC (Wisconsin EHDI – Tracking Referral and Coordination program). This is a joint effort between hospitals, clinics and the state to make sure that all infants have had proper screening tests done and to ensure appropriate follow-up for babies identified with special needs.
  • Ministry Medical Group's Audiology Department also sees infants born at other facilities that have been referred from their newborn hearing screens.

Why is newborn hearing screening so important?

As many as 3 out of every 1,000 babies are born in the United States each year with hearing loss (per the American Academy of Audiology). These babies are at risk for future problems related to speech and language development. The earlier that hearing loss is identified, the earlier professionals can intervene to make sure that these babies catch up to their normal hearing peers.

Here is a list of some things an infant with normal hearing should be able to do:

Approximately Two Months of Age:
  • Startles to loud sound
  • Quiets to familiar voices
  • Makes vowel sounds like "ohh," "ahh"
Approximately Four Months of Age:
  • Looks for sound sources
  • Starts babbling
  • Uses a variety of voice sounds, squeals and chuckles
Approximately Six Months of Age:
  • Turns head toward loud sound
  • Begins to imitate speech sound
  • Babbles ("baba," "mama," "gaga")
Approximately Nine Months of Age:
  • Imitates speech sounds of others
  • Understands "no-no" or "bye-bye"
  • Turns head toward soft sounds
Approximately 12 Months of Age:
  • Correctly uses "mama" or "dada"
  • Gives toy when asked
  • Responds to singing or music
  • Readily turns toward all sounds


Children should be screened for hearing loss as needed, requested,  when there is a history middle ear fluid or infections, concerns regarding speech and/language development or a family history of childhood or early progressive hearing loss.  Older children that are suspected of having learning difficulties or ADHD should also be screened for possible hearing loss. There are various techniques/tests that are used to screen a child's hearing.  The techniques used are based on the child's age and/or development level. If you feel that your child's hearing should be screened or tested contact the audiology department or your child's pediatrician.

For more information on hearing screening go www.asha.org/public/hearing/testing.


Hearing loss is a prevalent chronic condition among adults of all ages. It is recognized that hearing loss increases as a function of age, especially for frequencies at 2000 Hz and above. However, adults tend to ignore its effects, delay their decision to seek audiologic services, and tend to put off recommended treatments.

While more than 30% of people over 65 have some type or hearing loss, 14% of those between 45 and 64 have hearing loss. Close to 8 million people between the ages of 18 and 44 have hearing loss.

Adult hearing screening programs are considered voluntary. It is recommended however, that adults be screened at least every decade through age 50 and at 3-year intervals thereafter.

Hearing Handicap Inventory Screening Questionnaire

Instructions: Answer Yes, No, or Sometimes for each question. Do not skip a question if you avoid a situation because of a hearing problem. If you use a hearing aid, please answer according to the way you hear with the aid.

  1. Does a hearing problem cause you to feel embarrassed when you meet new people?
  2. Does a hearing problem cause you to feel frustrated when talking to members of your family?
  3. Do you have difficulty hearing when someone speaks in a whisper?
  4. Do you feel handicapped by a hearing problem?
  5. Does a hearing problem cause you difficulty when visiting friends, relatives, or neighbors?
  6. Does a hearing problem cause you to attend religious services less often than you would like?
  7. Does a hearing problem cause you to have arguments with family members?
  8. Does a hearing problem cause you difficulty when listening to TV or radio?
  9. Do you feel that any difficulty with your hearing limits or hampers your personal or social life?
  10. Does a hearing problem cause you difficulty when in a restaurant with relatives or friends?

Scoring: No = 0; Sometimes = 2; Yes = 4 Interpretation of total score:

0-8 = no handicap
10-24 = mild to moderate handicap
26-40 = severe handicap

Questionnaire adapted from: Ventry 1, Weinstein B. Identification of elderly people with hearing problems. ASHA. 1983; 25:37-42

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