Hearing Problems in Children – Signs to Look For

Hearing loss is not just a problem that affects older individuals. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 2 to 3 of every one thousand babies are born deaf or with some amount of impaired hearing. Childhood hearing loss can be caused by developmental abnormalities in the structure of the ear, by a middle ear infection called otitis media, by injury or exposure to loud noises, or by illnesses such as measles, meningitis, or chickenpox. Early childhood hearing screenings can reveal whether your child has hearing loss. The sooner the impairment is identified, the more likely the child will follow a normal developmental track.

Fortunately, there are a number of indications of possible hearing loss that you, as a parent, can watch for. In babies, the key thing to look for is how the infant reacts – or doesn’t react – to sounds. Observe whether the child is startled by loud noises and turns toward the source of the sound. Also look for failure to turn the head when you call her name or reacting to some sounds and not others.

Signs of otitis media include rubbing or pulling at their ears, having fevers or earaches, becoming inattentive or listless, failing to understand instructions, and asking for the TV to be turned up louder. If you find that your child carefully watches people’s faces as they are speaking, has difficulty locating the source of sounds, or uses the words “what?” or “huh?” many times a day, these could also be signs of a hearing problem. Hearing loss is a serious concern. Even mild hearing loss can lead to delays in language and speech development and manifest in poor school performance.

To aid in early detection, many states have mandatory early hearing screenings. These are painless tests often performed at the hospital after birth or in public schools. Children are never too young to have their hearing tested, because the sooner hearing problems are identified, the sooner they can be corrected. We would be happy to arrange for a hearing screening for your child or children, and if any hearing problems are found, we have the expertise and resources to help solve them.

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