Otoacoustic emissions are sounds given off by the inner ear when presented with sound. The vibration from the sound wave causes the tiny hairs that line the inner ear to move. This movement creates a barely audible sound called an otoacoustic emission. The emission is echoed back through the middle ear and can be measured by a small probe placed into the ear canal.
Otoacoustic emissions are not produced by those with a certain degree of hearing loss. If no OAEs are present, this could indicate hearing loss, fluid within the middle ear, or damage to the outer hairs in the cochlea. This screening is part of the newborn hearing screening program.