Hearing Test (OAE/BERA)
Unlocking the Benefits of a BERA Test: Your Guide to Understanding Auditory Brainstem Response
Have you ever wondered how our brain processes sound? Or you’ve experienced hearing difficulties and want to explore available diagnostic options. Consider the BERA test a powerful tool providing valuable insights into your auditory system’s health. This comprehensive guide will unravel the mysteries of Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) testing and help you understand its benefits.
BERA test helps healthcare professionals to identify hearing disorders and tumours by measuring electrical activity in the auditory nerve and brainstem in response to sound. This article walks you through the BERA test procedure, it’s uses, and essential information to make decisions about your auditory health.
Remember, your auditory well-being matters, so let’s embark on this informative journey together.
What is a BERA test?
A BERA test is a non-invasive procedure that assesses the functionality of the auditory nerve pathways and brainstem—This hearing BERA test is suitable for all ages. The test records brain signals in response to sound using electrodes on the scalp and earlobes. These signals are then recorded and analysed by specialised equipment.
The BERA test is very helpful in diagnosing hearing disorders in infants, who may be unable to communicate their auditory difficulties effectively. It provides valuable information about the integrity of the auditory pathways, helping healthcare professionals determine the appropriate intervention or treatment plan.
The auditory test is safe, painless, and suitable for all ages. Duration varies based on factors like age, cooperation, and protocol used. It only takes 30-60 minutes and is followed by an immediate resumption of everyday activities.
How does a BERA test work?
The patient needs a quiet space and a comfortable deep sleep position for the BERA test: a scalp electrode, earlobe electrode, a forehead electrode, and an earphone present sound stimuli. The electrodes detect the auditory nerve and brainstem’s electrical activity.
The test presents a series of clicks or tone bursts at varying intensities and frequencies—the equipment records and analyses these sounds, triggering the brain’s response. The resulting waveform, known as the auditory brainstem response, provides valuable information about the integrity of the auditory system.
The recorded signals are analyzed to determine the presence of abnormalities or delays in the auditory pathway. A trained healthcare professional interprets the findings of the diagnose.
Benefits of a BERA test
The BERA test offers numerous benefits in the field of audiology. Firstly, it is a non-invasive procedure that does not cause discomfort or pain to the patient, making it suitable for individuals of all ages, including infants and young children.
The BERA test provides valuable information about auditory nerve and brainstem functionality. It can help diagnose various hearing disorders, including hearing loss, auditory neuropathy, and tumours affecting the auditory system. Early detection of these conditions is crucial for timely intervention and treatment.
Furthermore, the BERA test is instrumental in assessing hearing function in individuals who cannot provide reliable behavioural responses, such as infants or individuals with developmental disabilities. It provides objective data about the integrity of the auditory pathways, enabling healthcare professionals to take decisions about intervention strategies.
The BERA test is vital in evaluating hearing function and diagnosing auditory disorders. Its non-invasive nature, ability to assess individuals of all ages, and provision of objective data make it an invaluable tool in audiology.
When is a BERA test recommended?
A BERA test is often recommended to identify potential hearing loss or auditory pathway abnormalities, especially in newborns, as part of a hearing screening program. Early detection of hearing disorders in infants is crucial for appropriate intervention and support.
A BERA test can help determine the degree of hearing impairment in children or adults with suspected hearing loss. It is beneficial when other hearing tests, such as pure-tone audiometry, may not provide conclusive results or when there is a need to assess the integrity of the auditory nerve pathways.
BERA test detects auditory neuropathy when there’s no hearing loss. It can also evaluate the auditory system in people with medical conditions such as tumours that affect the auditory pathways.
Consult a qualified audiologist or healthcare provider if you are concerned about your hearing or auditory health. A BERA test will be performed depending on a person’s medical history and requirements.
Limitations and risks of a BERA test
While the BERA test is deemed safe and dependable, it is essential to acknowledge its limitations and risks.
While the BERA test assesses the auditory nerve and brainstem, it doesn’t evaluate the inner ear. Additional tests like pure-tone audiometry or otoacoustic emissions are needed to evaluate the auditory system.
Accurate results from the BERA test require the patient’s cooperation, which can be challenging for individuals with developmental disabilities or young children who may require sedation or alternative testing methods.
The BERA test carries minor risks, such as temporary skin irritation or redness at the electrode sites. Although rare, an allergic reaction to the electrode gel during the test is possible. However, the benefits of the test outweigh these risks.
BERA test vs. other hearing tests
The BERA test is just one way to check hearing and diagnose auditory issues. The test depends on the patient’s age, symptoms, and medical history.
The BERA test is advantageous for individuals who may not be able to provide reliable behavioural responses, such as infants or those with developmental disabilities, as it allows for objective data on auditory nerve and brainstem function.
The BERA test is a non-invasive hearing test that surpasses pure-tone audiometry and is suitable for all individuals, including newborns. It is an essential tool for diagnosing hearing problems.
BERA tests are not a substitute for other hearing evaluations. The patient’s needs may require additional tests.
How to prepare for a BERA test
Following specific guidelines when taking a BERA test is essential to ensure accurate results. To help you prepare for the test, here are some tips:
- Be sure to inform your healthcare provider of any medications you take, as some may affect test results. They may advise you to discontinue certain medicines before the test temporarily.
- Clean your ears by gently wiping the outer ear with a soft cloth or tissue. Be careful not to insert anything into the ear canal to prevent injury or interference with the test.
- Ensure you are well-rested and relaxed on the test day. Fatigue or stress can affect the brain’s responses, leading to inaccurate results.
- Wear comfortable clothing and ensure your hair is clean and product-free for the test. Stay still during the procedure.
- Bring a child’s favourite toy to calm them during a test.
Remember to follow any specific instructions your healthcare provider or audiologist provided regarding preparation for the BERA test. They will guide you through the process and answer any questions or concerns.
Get a full auditory assessment from a healthcare professional, including the BERA test, for guidance on maintaining good auditory health.