Hearing Loss in Children
As a parent of a child with hearing loss, you may have many questions and concerns regarding the causes of hearing loss, available treatment options, and the effects it may have on your child’s future. More than 1.4 million children under the age of 18 have been diagnosed with hearing problems. One of the most common hearing loss causes in children is ear infections. When diagnosed with a hearing impairment, parents should act fast as a timely treatment can help to prevent future hearing problems and minimize damage. Both sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss can be addressed before it causes a long-term impact on the child’s learning skills and communication.
Common Signs of Hearing Loss in Children
While some children are born deaf, others may experience gradual or sudden hearing loss. When you notice any of the following common signs of hearing loss in children, it’s important to consult a physician immediately.
- Family member, provider, or teacher is concerned regarding the child’s hearing ability, delay in speech or language development, or academic performance
- If the child says “huh?” or “what?” frequently
- Difficulty understanding speech, even in noisy environments
- Lack of response to soft sounds
- Sitting close to the music player or television when the volume is turned up to a loud level
- Intently watches the faces of people who are speaking
- Not responding appropriately when listening on the telephone or switching ears
- Not startled by loud or intense noises
- Unable to locate where a sound is coming from
Common Causes of Hearing Loss In Children
There is a multitude of hearing loss causes in children relating to both sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss. Many people are unaware that hearing loss in children can begin before they are even born – in utero. The following are common hearing loss causes in children.
- Prematurity: Approximately 5 percent of children born before 32 weeks or 8 months of pregnancy suffer some level of hearing loss by the time they reach 5 years of age.
- Cytomegalovirus: Yet another pregnancy cause, cytomegalovirus is responsible for babies’ being born with progressive hearing loss – as well as blindness, mental retardation, or cerebral palsy.
- Otitis Media: Ear infections, or otitis media, are common in infants and young children but without treatment, can lead to permanent hearing loss.
- Meningitis: Bacterial meningitis is another common cause of hearing impairment in children, but can typically be controlled with steroids.
- Down Syndrome: Syndromic or genetic factors are often associated with hearing loss in those with Down syndrome and similar conditions.
A child’s quality of life and development relies heavily on their ability to hear, making it important to take care of hearing problems as soon as they arise. There are treatment options for both sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss once a solid diagnosis has been made by the child’s physician. If your child is deaf or has experienced sudden hearing loss, there are a wide range of hearing devices and assistive technology that can help. It’s possible for children who have experienced gradual or sudden hearing loss or that are deaf to fulfill their potential through the success of numerous forms of treatment.