Hearing Loss in Children With Otitis Media With Effusion: Actual and Simulated Effects on Speech Perception

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Abstract

Objective:

Conductive hearing loss simulations have attempted to estimate the speech-understanding difficulties of children with otitis media with effusion (OME). However, the validity of this approach has not been evaluated. The research aim of the present study was to investigate whether a simple, frequency-specific, attenuation-based simulation of OME-related hearing loss was able to reflect the actual effects of conductive hearing loss on speech perception.

Design:

Forty-one school-age children with OME-related hearing loss were recruited. Each child with OME was matched with a same sex and age counterpart with normal hearing to make a participant pair. Pure-tone threshold differences at octave frequencies from 125 to 8000 Hz for every participant pair were used as the simulation attenuation levels for the normal-hearing children. Another group of 41 school-age otologically normal children were recruited as a control group without actual or simulated hearing loss. The Mandarin Hearing in Noise Test was utilized, and sentence recall accuracy at four signal to noise ratios (SNR) considered representative of classroom-listening conditions were derived, as well as reception thresholds for sentences (RTS) in quiet and in noise using adaptive protocols.

Results:

The speech perception in quiet and in noise of children with simulated OME-related hearing loss was significantly poorer than that of otologically normal children. Analysis showed that RTS in quiet of children with OME-related hearing loss and of children with simulated OME-related hearing loss was significantly correlated and comparable. A repeated-measures analysis suggested that sentence recall accuracy obtained at 5-dB SNR, 0-dB SNR, and –5-dB SNR was similar between children with actual and simulated OME-related hearing loss. However, RTS in noise in children with OME was significantly better than that for children with simulated OME-related hearing loss.

Conclusions:

The present frequency-specific, attenuation-based simulation method reflected the effects of OME-related hearing loss on speech perception impairment in quiet environments. In noisy environments, the simulation method could only approximately estimate the effects of OME-related hearing loss on speech perception in typical classroom noise levels. Children with OME-related hearing loss may develop compensatory strategies to reduce the effects of hearing loss in adverse listening environments.

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