Hearing loss is challenging to accept at any age. For children, it’s especially devastating, since it can impede the ability to learn. The earlier pediatric hearing loss is detected, the better the odds of your child keeping pace with his or her classmates when it comes to education and social development.
Pediatric Hearing Loss Categories
Hearing loss is measured in degrees, and ranges from mild (it’s difficult to hear hushed tones and whispers) to moderately severe (loud speech can still be detected) to a total hearing loss, causing deafness.
If your child is suffering from pediatric hearing loss, it falls into one of two categories. Conductive hearing loss occurs when conditions in the middle or outer ear block the transmission of sound. This is the most common type, and may be caused by ear infections, fluid or other objects in the ear, impacted earwax, a perforated eardrum, or a birth defect. Sensorineural hearing loss, also known as nerve deafness, is the result of problems in the inner ear or the central auditory pathway to the brain, and is frequently caused by viral or bacterial infections. Other causes include ototoxic drugs, premature birth, and hereditary factors. Conductive hearing loss may clear up or improve with treatment, but sensorineural hearing loss is most often a permanent condition. Fortunately, hearing aids usually help improve the ability to ommunicate.
Signs & Symptoms of Pediatric Hearing Loss
It’s important to spot the signs and symptoms of pediatric hearing loss as early as possible. The sooner your child receives treatment, the less compromised his or her ability to learn and develop socially will be. In particular, look for the following:
- Newborn/Infant: Failure to startle at loud noises; delayed speech development.
- Toddler and Older: Having trouble in school; not responding to somebody who is speaking unless face to face with that person; watching TV at an excessively loud volume; stating that he/she is having trouble hearing.
An estimated 1 in 5 children have at least a slight hearing loss, which can lead to impaired social-emotional development, speech impairment, and poor academic performance.
Hearing loss in adolescents is usually the result of noise exposure, especially that which occurs in conjunction with ear buds and MP3 players. Teens should be taught the dangers of listening to music at inappropriate volumes early on.
If you feel your child has a hearing loss, please call our office to schedule an appointment immediately. Timely hearing testing, diagnosis and treatment are the best solution for ensuring your child’s developmental success.