Hearing loss at any age is an emotional issue. It robs you of a sense that adds so much richness to life. In children, the loss is especially heartbreaking. It impacts not only the sound experience of a life yet to be lived to the fullest, but also creates a barrier to a child’s number one job, learning. Fortunately, many causes of hearing loss are treatable, and it is often possible to return the sounds of childhood to a young life. We invite you to learn more.
Categories of Hearing Loss
As with adults, hearing loss in children is measured in degrees. The loss can range from mild, one that causes difficulty hearing hushed tones such as a whisper, to moderately severe, where the child can still hear loud speech, to a total loss resulting in deafness.
Hearing loss in children typically falls into two main categories. A conductive loss is the most common and is associated with conditions in the external or middle ear that block the transmission of sound. These conditions can include ear infection, fluid in the ear, impacted earwax, perforated eardrum, a foreign object in the canal or birth defects that alter the canal. Many of these conditions are treatable through minor procedures or surgery.
Sensorinueural hearing loss is the second type. Often referred to as “nerve deafness,” this is the result of an inner ear or central auditory pathway issue. Most often, this type of loss is caused by congenital infections, the use of ototoxic drugs (especially antibiotics), premature birth with a very low birth weight and some of the resulting treatments, or a number of other medical conditions. Although there is no cure in most cases, children can often be helped with hearing aids.
Signs that may indicate possible hearing issues in children of different ages are:
Newborn / infant:
- Not startling at loud noises
- Not showing normal speech development
Toddler and older:
- Sitting close to the television with the sound turned up to a loud volume
- Having difficulty in school
- Not responding to someone speaking unless face to face
- Stating that he/she is having difficulty hearing
If you believe your child does not hear well you should consult with your physician at the earliest possible date. Timely testing, diagnosis and treatment provide the best course of action to ensure your child experiences a lifetime of high quality hearing.