Hearing loss can affect a person at any age. Some even have hearing loss from birth. It is important that symptoms of hearing loss are diagnosed as early as possible, especially in children. Early detection can help lessen stress for both the children with hearing loss and their families. This can also make it easier for children to learn and improve linguistics.
In this comprehensive two-part post, Hear More Associates shares what you need to know about hearing loss in children, including their signs, what causes them, and the treatment and management options available:
What Is Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss is when sounds aren’t heard as well as they should be. It can range from mild to severe and can happen in one or both ears. There are many different causes and types of hearing loss. It is a condition that many children, teens, and adults experience at some point in their lifetime. Hearing loss is different for all people, so the signs and symptoms vary depending on the degree and type.
What Are the Signs of Hearing Loss in Children?
Hearing loss may look different in each child, but there are a number of common signs. A child with hearing loss may:
- look away or not pay attention when someone is talking,
- turn up the television or play instruments loudly,
- have trouble understanding what people are saying,
- have difficulty hearing in noisy environments, or
- have trouble hearing in the high-pitched ranges.
Children with hearing loss may also have other issues that can affect their behavior, like speech delays, learning disabilities, and social problems.
When Should a Child Get a Hearing Test?
It’s important that children are screened for hearing loss as early as possible. How early they are tested depends on the child’s age. The best time to begin screenings is at birth. It’s recommended that children who are between the ages of one and five should be screened through the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment program. This program tests hearing, speech, vision, and other developmental issues.
Children who are between the ages of six and 18 should be screened by a healthcare professional during regular checkups. If a child is struggling with speech, learning, or behavior, it is recommended that he or she be tested for hearing loss.
What Are the Causes of Hearing Loss in Children?
Many children are born with hearing loss. Some children may have hearing loss from birth. These are known as congenital causes. Some common congenital causes include:
- Rubella (German measles) during pregnancy
- Maternal age over 30
- Excessive amniotic fluid during pregnancy
- Low birth weight
- Birth injury
- Low levels of oxygen during birth
- Problems with the structure of the ear (such as when the ear does not form correctly)
For a child who hasn’t been diagnosed with hearing loss from birth, other causes may be responsible. These may include:
- Excessive ear infections during a child’s early years
- Head trauma
- Earwax buildup (this can be easily treated)
- Mild to severe ear infections
- Noise exposure
- Bacterial meningitis
- Exposure to toxic levels of mercury
- Medications (some medications can cause hearing loss)
Hearing loss in children can be difficult for everyone involved, but it is a condition that can be treated. Working closely with an audiologist and a pediatrician can help a child develop speech and language skills and reduce symptoms of hearing loss. The earlier a child is diagnosed with hearing loss, the better. It’s recommended that a child has regular hearing tests starting in infancy.
If you’re concerned that your child is not hearing well, it’s important to take him or her to see an expert at a hearing clinic. The sooner a child begins receiving treatment, the better. Hear More Associates can help you with that. We have some of the best hearing specialists in Massachusetts who can perform the necessary tests to determine whether or not your child has hearing loss and if so, provide the right treatment approach. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!