The OAE (Otoacoustic Emissions) test examines a component of the inner ear’s sound response. When a small section of the cochlea is stimulated by clicking sounds, it produces otoac acoustic emissions. A practically inaudible sound is produced which echoes back into the middle ear.


Otoacoustic emissions are sounds given off by one small part of the cochlea when it is stimulated by soft clicking sounds. When the sound stimulates the cochlea, the outer hair cells vibrate. The vibration produces a nearly inaudible sound that echoes back into the middle ear.

Soft foam or rubber tips are placed in your child’s ear. Your child will hear soft sounds through the soft foam or rubber tips. A computer will record quiet echoes from the ear.Your child is not required to sleep during this test. However, for this test, your child, and everyone in the room, must be able to sit still and be very quiet. Your child will not feel anything during this test.

The results are either present or absent.

  • Present OAEs are consistent with normal to near normal hearing.
  • Absent OAEs may be a sign of a problem. It could be hearing loss, wax in the ears, fluid or infection in the middle ear or a malformed inner ear. This indicates that more testing needs to find out why the OAEs were absent, and to rule out any possible hearing loss.


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