Hearing loss in children not only impacts the sound experience of a life yet to be lived to the fullest, but it 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. At Hudson Valley Audiology, we treat patients of all ages, and we take particular pleasure in helping children with hearing loss, who have so much ahead of them to hear and learn.
Categories of Hearing Loss That Affect Children
Unlike adults, hearing loss in children is most commonly conductive hearing loss, rather than sensorineural hearing loss. As with adults, hearing loss in children is measured in degrees: It can range from mild (one that causes difficulty hearing hushed tones such as a whisper) to moderate (where the child can still hear loud speech) to a complete loss of hearing.
Conductive Hearing Loss
The most common type of hearing loss in children is a conductive hearing loss associated with conditions in the external or middle ear that block the transmission of sound. In children these conditions are most typically otitis media, impacted cerumen, a perforated eardrum, or birth defects that alter the structure of the external auditory canal and/or middle-ear system. Most conductive hearing losses are medically treatable through antibiotics and/or surgery.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Child with hearing loss Sensorineural loss is the second most common type of hearing loss, resulting from damage to the cochlea (inner ear) and the auditory nerve. Sensorineural hearing loss in children is often congenital. Other causes of sensorineural hearing loss include ototoxic medications, premature birth, and illnesses. Sensorineural hearing loss is not medically treatable; however, in most cases, children can be helped with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
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.
Your child’s communication skills begin developing as soon as they are born. A delay in the advancement of these skills is a red flag that something is not right developmentally. Look for these signs of hearing loss:
- Not startling at loud noises
- Not recognizing your voice
- Not moving eyes in direction of sound
Difficulty with Speech Development:
- Lack of babbling
- Lack of crying for different needs
- Doesn’t vocalize excitement or displeasure
- Around 7 months to a year, hasn’t spoken one or two words
As with newborns and infants, a child’s difficulty with communication skills may be a sign of hearing impairment. As your child begins day care and/or preschool, any trouble they may have listening or communicating will become more prominent. Look for these signs of hearing loss:
- Unable to point to different body parts when asked
- Doesn’t enjoy being read to
- Doesn’t understand action words like “run” or “sit”
- Sits close to the television
Difficulty with Speech Development:
- Unable to form simple sentences
- Doesn’t ask “why?” or “what?” questions
- Can’t answer “why?” or “what?” questions
- Doesn’t use plurals or verbs
Teens today have quite a bit on their plates, and they typically aren’t educated about the possibility of loud noises permanently damaging their hearing. It is essential to protect their healthy ears, as hearing plays a critical role in their academic success, social standing, and future economic achievements. This age group is at a greater risk for high-frequency hearing loss because of lifestyle choices. Seeing their favorite artists in concert, playing music too loudly through headphones, attending loud sporting events, or hunting can all damage your child’s hearing irreparably if they’re not using proper hearing protection.
Look for these signs of hearing loss:
- Turning up the television to an excessive volume
- Saying “what?” frequently
- Only responding when eye contact is made
- Complaining of ringing in the ears or a dip in hearing ability
- Withdrawing socially
If you believe your child is showing signs of hearing loss, please contact us today. As a certified location for infant hearing evaluations, 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.