Q. My 3 year old daughter failed her OAE test. Is that due to hearing loss?

Answered by
Dr. Priyanka Aggarwal
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Feb 16, 2017 and last reviewed on: Oct 09, 2018

Hi doctor,

My daughter is 3 years old. She failed OAE testing at 3 years of age. She has issues with articulation and has been in speech therapy for over a year. Scores are 1% for understandability. Our audiologist did not tell us much. Can I get your insight into my daughter's audiogram?



Welcome to

  • Your daughter's audiogram (attachment removed to protect patient identity) shows a conductive hearing loss, but the ear is not mentioned. The cause seems to be some middle ear disease only.
  • Please tell me about her subjective hearing. Is there any hearing loss she experiences and for how long? Does anything happen like if you have to call her loud or she cannot make out from a distance?
  • Is there any history of ear discharge or frequent cold or throat infection or pain in the ears? Please check for tongue-tie.
  • Please tell me what kind of problem she has with speaking? Is her speech not clear or does she speak limited consonants?

Revert with the details to an audiologist online -->

Hi doctor,

She has never commented on hearing loss. In loud areas, she does not answer us or look, and it does not matter what we say. We ask her if she wants chocolate, but she does not answer. She also will not respond appropriately if you are not facing her. We can talk in a normal voice when we are alone, but not in a whisper. She has an excellent comprehension of small items that is if you say directly to her point a comb in the book, she can point it out. However, if you are giving her directions, it is up in the air if she will be able to do it or not.

She has been under the speech therapy since she was 25 months old. She is now 39 months. She barely qualified at 25 months. However, the last evaluation showed a decline in speech. They are still working on beginning sounds. She gets every syllable right and the intonation correct; however, the actual sounds of the words are incorrect. She talks all the time, but very little is understandable to family and much less by an unfamiliar listener. She is constantly trying to talk. She does not get frustrated with us. She looks at us like we are stupid and walks off. She often forces our faces when we are talking to her so that she can see our faces.

There is no ear discharge, ear infections, colds or flu. Her pediatrician has never seen fluid in her ear. She had Strep throat before a year, and that is the last time she was sick. She was born with sepsis and was put on IV antibiotics (ototoxic) at birth. She spent seven days in NICU. Is conductive hearing loss treatable? Could this be from liquid behind the ear that we do not know? What are the examples of middle ear diseases?



Welcome to

  • As you are saying that she does not respond well in loud places shows that she has a hearing problem. Even the audiogram shows a conductive hearing loss.
  • If the loss had been due to the ototoxic drugs, it must have been sensory neural in nature. But, the loss is not due to that drug she was given at birth as it seems from the audiogram report.
  • The most common cause of conductive hearing loss in children is the fluid behind the eardrum, which is treatable and recoverable.
  • In the report you have attached (attachment removed to protect patient identity), the impedance audiometry also shows the same middle ear disease possibly the cause of conductive hearing loss.
  • Your child is in the age when the child acquires speech. So, do not worry if she is still cannot speak a few words so clearly. But, the concern here is that the hearing loss she is having should not affect her speech acquiring as appears from the speech audiometry.
  • So, my advice would be that you should visit an ENT specialist and get the child examined. Any throat problem like adenoids or tonsils can be the cause of the middle ear problem, and this can only be ruled out on examination.
  • According to my experience, your child needs grommet insertion in drums that will cure.

For further information consult an audiologist online -->

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