Patients of all ages can experience a loss of hearing. Roughly three out of 1,000 babies are born with hearing loss. The overall prevalence is increasing in adolescents. Noise-induced hearing loss is largely responsible for this increase. If you suspect your child is having difficulty hearing, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Delaying treatment can have a strong effect on a child’s learning and development.
What Causes Hearing Loss in Children?
There are three main causes of hearing loss in children. Congenital factors contribute to children who are born with hearing problems because of genetic issues, prenatal problems, or premature birth. Otitis media (ear infection) is also a potential cause of hearing loss and in severe cases may lead to permanent hearing damage. Acquired hearing loss is triggered by illnesses, physical trauma, exposure to loud noises, and medications.
What Are the Symptoms?
How can you tell if your child might have a hearing loss? There are a number of factors that may prompt you to have your child’s hearing tested. These include:
- A delay in speech and language.
- Failure to respond to loud noises or your voice.
- Poor academic performance.
- Frequent ear infections.
- Disorders associated with hearing loss (i.e. Down syndrome or autism).
- Family history of hearing loss.
Treating Hearing Loss in Children
There are numerous options for treating hearing loss in children depending upon the type and severity of their condition. When it comes to ear infections, chronic cases may be treated with medications or ear tubes that are inserted surgically and allow fluid to drain from the ears.
Permanent hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other hearing devices that enable a child to communicate.
Early treatment of hearing loss can allow normal development of speech and language.