What is hearing loss in children?

Hearing Loss in Children

What are the symptoms of hearing loss in children?

If your child is not responding to voices or sounds as well as in the past, your child may have hearing loss.

Some common symptoms of hearing loss are:

  • Muffled hearing and a feeling that the ear is plugged.
  • Trouble understanding what people are saying, especially when there is background talking or noise.
  • Listening to the TV or radio at a higher volume than in the past.
  • A delay in your child's speech development.

What kinds of hearing loss can children have?

Hearing loss can last for a short time (temporary) or can be permanent.

Congenital hearing loss.

Your child is born without hearing or with less-than-normal hearing. This type is permanent.

Conductive hearing loss.

Sound is blocked before it reaches the inner ear. For example, too much wax in the ear or an ear infection can cause it. This type goes away with treatment.

Sensorineural hearing loss.

Sound reaches the inner ear. But a problem in the inner ear or in the nerves prevents normal hearing. This type is usually permanent. Meningitis can cause this type of hearing loss.

Mixed hearing loss.

There is a combination of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.

Some hearing loss is minor. And some is more serious. Sometimes a child may only have problems with certain tones, or frequencies. For example, a child may not hear high-pitched sounds.

How is hearing loss in children treated?

If your child has reversible hearing loss, your doctor can treat the problem that caused it, such as by removing earwax or treating an ear infection. Permanent hearing loss can be treated with hearing devices, such as hearing aids. Cochlear implants may be an option. A listening technique called speechreading may also help.

How can you prevent hearing loss in children?

  • Make sure your child does not put objects in their ear.
  • Never stick a cotton swab, hairpin, or other object in your child's ear to try to remove earwax.
  • Teach your child to blow their nose gently and through both nostrils.
  • Make sure your child avoids loud noise, such as loud music.

How is hearing loss in children diagnosed?

Hearing tests are used to check for hearing loss in children and babies. There are many types of hearing tests. They help find out what kind of hearing loss your child may have. They also can show how severe it is. Your doctor may refer you to an audiologist for the hearing tests.

What is hearing loss in children?

Hearing loss is a sudden or slow decrease in how well your child can hear. Depending on the cause, it can range from slight to profound. It can be short-term or permanent. Congenital hearing loss means your child is born with hearing problems.

In conductive hearing loss, sound is blocked before it reaches the inner ear. In sensorineural hearing loss, sound reaches the inner ear. But hearing is prevented by a problem in the inner ear, in the nerves that allow your child to hear, or in the brain. Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both.

An ear infection may sometimes cause a short-term or reversible hearing loss. The infection blocks sound from passing through the ear canal or middle ear to the inner ear. This is one kind of conductive hearing loss.

Some hearing problems can delay your child's speech and language development. Early screening for hearing loss can help prevent speech and language problems.

When should your child be checked for hearing loss?

Almost all 50 states require newborn hearing tests for all babies born in hospitals. Hearing should be checked by a doctor at each well-child visit and anytime you or your child may notice changes. Some hearing problems can delay your child's speech and language development. Be sure your child has regular hearing exams.

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.