Growing up is quite the adventure, but with a hearing problem, it’s an adventure that’s hard to navigate, no matter how courageous the spirit.

Even though it’s essential to social, emotional, and cognitive development, hearing is often one of the senses that is medically overlooked. Early identification and treatment of hearing loss in children can lessen the negative impacts that the loss will have on a child’s development, giving them the opportunity to live up to their full potential both socially and academically.

 

Symptoms of Pediatric Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be difficult enough for adults to detect, let alone children, who aren’t always able to articulate the source of their difficulties in life. There are a number of signs to look for if you’re concerned that your child may be suffering from a hearing loss.

Each child develops uniquely, even within the same family, and may meet certain milestones earlier or later than others. If your child does not meet many of the milestones within their age range, visit ASHA ProFind to find an ASHA-certified audiologist or speech-language pathologist (SLP) for an assessment.

Learn more about pediatric hearing health below.

Categories of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is measured by the amount of the loss and the type of the loss. The amount of hearing loss is measured in degrees from within normal limits to profound. The types of hearing loss are:

  1. Conductive hearing loss, 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, a perforated eardrum, a foreign object in the canal, or birth defects that alter the canal. Many of these are treatable.
  2. Sensorineural loss, occurs when damage to the inner ear, or to nerve pathways from the inner ear, interfere with the brain’s ability to process sound. If a child is born with sensorineural hearing loss, it is congenital, meaning it was present at birth.The most common reasons for congenital hearing loss are:
    • Genetics, family history of hearing loss
    • Infections during pregnancy including CMV (Cytomegalovirus), Toxoplasmosis, Rubella, Herpes and Syphilis and bacterial Meningitis
    • Mechanical Ventilation 5+ days
    • Admitted to NICU 5+ days
    • Hyperbilirubinemia requiring exchange transfusion
    • Craniofacial anomalies
    • Ototoxic Medications
    • Confirmed Syndrome

    Although there is no cure for this type of hearing loss, in most cases, hearing aids and a family-centered care plan are effective treatments.

Sensory Infographic

Hearing and Communication milestones can help you determine if your child is hearing well enough to learn speech and language within an age range. Be sure to note that all children develop at different rates and these milestones should be used as a general guideline. If you have any concerns about your infant/child’s hearing or speech it’s best to call us to complete a hearing test to determine if their hearing has changed.

 

If you believe your child is showing signs of hearing loss, please contact us today. We can properly determine your child’s hearing ability, regardless of age, and determine if there is a hearing loss. As a family-centered practice, we encourage your entire family, as well as your pediatrician, to be involved in all aspects of this process.


Frequently Asked Questions

How are earbud headphones harming my child’s (or my) hearing?
Earbuds allow us to listen to music anywhere, anytime, and for long periods of time. This is the perfect storm for hearing loss, as the decibel level (the sound pressure) and the length of listening time affect how much damage is done. Loud music destroys the fine hairs that stimulate auditory nerve fibers, which send signals to the brain to interpret sound. Sound becomes damaging at 85 decibels (the sound level of a bulldozer idling). Listen to your music-playing device at about 70% volume to avoid damage. Or try the 60/60 rule: Listen to your device at 60% volume for 60 minutes at a time.
How early can a child be diagnosed with hearing loss?
Most children receive their first hearing screening shortly after birth. All states have implemented newborn hearing screenings at hospitals and birthing clinics, and most screenings happen before the parent and child are discharged. If the child does not pass the test twice, they are referred to an audiologist for further testing.
How often should children have their hearing tested?
Your baby should have a newborn hearing screening performed before being discharged from the hospital. If your infant has not had this yet, it is important to have your child’s hearing evaluated, preferably within the first month of life. If your infant has a risk factor for hearing loss their hearing will be checked at regular intervals starting around 6-12 months of age. Kids who seem to have normal hearing should continue to have their hearing evaluated at regular checkups. Typically, hearing tests are scheduled before entering preschool (age 3) and before Kindergarten (age 5). A child’s hearing can be tested anytime there is parent/caregiver concern for hearing loss or speech language delay.
What should I do if I think my child has a hearing loss?
The sooner the issue is addressed, the better the chances of successful treatment. If you believe your child has a hearing loss, please contact us for an appointment. Our practice provides family-centered treatment that focuses on thorough hearing testing, diagnosis, and follow-up appointments if necessary.
What types of hearing loss are found in children?
While the types of hearing loss in children are the same as in adults (conductive, sensorineural, and mixed), there are differences in what they are more susceptible to. For example, teens are at a greater risk for high-frequency hearing loss because of their lifestyle choices (loud concerts, music volume), while younger children may experience conductive hearing loss caused by otitis media or an ear infection. This is usually because the eustachian tube — the passage between the middle ear and the back of the throat — isn’t able to drain because of its shorter passage and horizontal setting.

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