Otoacoustic Emissions Test

What’s going on with your ears and your hearing? Our expert team at Jorgensen Hearing Center can perform a variety of targeted tests to find out.

One type of exam, otoacoustic emissions testing, helps identify normal inner-ear functioning as well as hearing impediments such as ear canal blockages, middle-ear fluid, and damage to cochlear hair cells.

Learn more about otoaoustic emissions testing, including whether it’s right for you or your family.

How does otoacoustic emissions testing work?

Often when people think of “emissions,” what comes to mind is the discharge of gases or other particles from car engines, lawn mowers, smokestacks, fireplaces, equipment, machinery, and other sources.

Most people don’t realize, however, that healthy ears produce their own kind of emissions – sounds generated within the inner ear when the cochlea is stimulated.

That’s where otoacoustic emissions testing comes in, measuring the sound that’s produced by vibrations of tiny cochlear hair cells:

  • The test involves inserting a small probe into the ear and producing clicking, buzzing, or tonal sounds to stimulate a response from the cochlear hair cells.
  • The probe includes speakers and a microphone to detect the otoacoustic emissions or sounds.
  • The hair cells, if healthy, will return a low-intensity, echo-like sound that’s measured by the probe device and immediately reported back to the hearing aid provider through a computer.
  • People with hearing loss beyond 25 to 30 decibels typically cannot emit these subtle sounds.
  • A poor result on the first test could be due to background noise, ear fluid in the case of newborns, or another factor; thus, the test in such instances will usually be performed a second time for confirmation.


Who should get otoacoustic testing?

The test — a painless, noninvasive process that typically takes no more than about 30 minutes — is often used in screening newborns and infants but may also be conducted with children who have developmental disabilities or people who cannot perform other kinds of hearing exams.

Catching and treating potential hearing problems early helps reduce the risk of physical, mental, academic, social, and other challenges caused by hearing loss.

Your hearing aid providers will determine which ear and hearing tests to conduct based on your individual needs and circumstances. If you have questions about hearing tests or would like to schedule an evaluation for yourself or a loved one, contact us today.