Pediatric Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be a challenge at any age, but this is especially true for children, who tend to see a far broader range of obstacles arising as a result of hearing impairment. Children may be tasked with learning how to communicate and speak without the ability to hear – a challenging feat. What’s more, a profoundly deaf child will also face challenges when he or she is provided with a hearing aid, as they may not know how to filter out and focus on just one sound in the environment. This can make the cacophony of sounds seem overwhelming.
But fortunately, these are challenges that can be overcome, especially now that there are a number of treatment options for pediatric hearing loss.
What Types of Hearing Loss Impact Children?
Children can suffer from a number of different types of hearing loss. While most adults have what’s known as sensorineural hearing loss, children most often have conductive hearing loss.
A child’s hearing loss is measured in degrees, which can range from mild hearing loss, such as an inability to hear very soft sounds, to more moderate hearing loss or a profound and total loss of hearing.
What is Conductive Hearing Loss?
Conductive hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss in children. It is most commonly the result of medical conditions or abnormalities involving the external or middle ear.
Some of the conditions and ailments that cause conductive hearing loss include:
- impacted cerumen;
- eardrum perforation;
- otitis media; and
- birth defects involving a poorly formed or absent structures in the auditory canal or middle ear.
NOTE: Conductive hearing loss in children is often treatable with remedies such as surgery or medications like antibiotics.
What is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?
Sensorineural hearing loss is the second most prevalent form of hearing loss. This type of hearing loss results from damage to the inner ear or cochlea and the auditory nerve. Congenital defects are the typical cause of sensorineural hearing loss in children. Other causes can include premature birth complications and adverse reactions to certain drugs, also called ototoxic medications.
NOTE: Cochlear implants and hearing aids can be used to treat sensorineural hearing loss in children.
What Are the Signs of Hearing Loss in a Child?
The symptoms of hearing loss in a child can range from very subtle to extremely apparent. The child’s age also impacts what type of signs and symptoms you may see.
In a newborn or infant, signs of deafness include:
- Not reacting or startling in response to sudden or loud noises;
- An inability to localize sound (i.e. not looking toward a sound source); and
- Failure to show normal speech development.
In a toddler or older child, signs of hearing loss include:
- Speech and language delays;
- Challenges in school;
- Listening to the television at a loud level;
- Requiring multiple verbal repetitions; and
- Remarks about difficulty hearing.
If you suspect that your child is deaf or suffering from hearing loss, it’s important to consult a hearing professional as soon as possible. Early intervention can maximize your child’s chances of seeing normal development. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our pediatric friendly audiologists.