Kids are wiggle worms; it’s hard enough to get them to sit still long enough to eat their veggies, let alone to get their hearing checked! But your child’s hearing health is just as important as those veggies.

Hearing is incredibly important to a child’s development. When you invest in their hearing health through testing and preventive measures, you are investing in their future.

3 Categories of Hearing Loss

Just like adults, children experience three different types of hearing loss, categorized as conductive, sensorineural, and mixed hearing loss.

  1. The most common, conductive hearing loss, is associated with conditions in the external or middle ear that block the transmission of sound. These conditions can include ear infection, fluid in the ear, impacted earwax, a perforated eardrum, a foreign object in the canal, or birth defects that alter the canal. Many of these are treatable through minor procedures or surgery.
  2. Sensorineural hearing loss, also known as “nerve deafness,” occurs when damage to the inner ear, or to nerve pathways from the inner ear, interfere with the brain’s ability to process sound. Most often, if a child is born with sensorineural hearing loss, it is congenital, meaning it was present at birth. It can also be caused by the use of ototoxic drugs (drugs that damage hearing) during pregnancy, a low birth weight, or treatments for a number of other medical conditions. Although there is no cure for this type of hearing loss, in most cases hearing aids and a family-centered care plan are effective treatments.
  3. Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, and it may include damage to the outer or middle ear, as well as the inner ear or auditory nerve. Treatment options are based primarily on how much of the hearing loss is correctable through surgery, drugs, or other methods. The remaining hearing loss is usually treatable with hearing aids.

Symptoms

Since children aren’t always able to express their experience, it can be hard to detect a hearing loss. This list can help you help your little one out.

In Newborns/Infants:

The ability to communicate begins developing as soon as your child is born. If you see any of the signs below, there may be a delay in the advancement of these skills.

Difficulty Hearing/Understanding

  • Not startling at loud noises
  • Not recognizing your voice
  • Not moving eyes in direction of sound
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    Difficulty with Speech Development

  • Lack of babbling
  • Lack of crying for different needs
  • Doesn’t vocalize excitement or displeasure
  • Around 7 months to a year, hasn’t spoken one or two words
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    Toddler:

    If you notice your toddler having a hard time communicating with you, this may be a sign of a hearing loss. When they go off to daycare and/or preschool, these signs will become more noticeable, so look for these to detect a hearing loss:

    Difficulty Hearing/Understanding

  • Unable to point to different body parts when asked
  • Doesn’t enjoy being read to
  • Doesn’t understand action words like “run” or “sit”
  • Sits close to the television
  •  
    Difficulty with Speech Development

  • Unable to form simple sentences
  • Doesn’t ask “why?” or “what?” questions
  • Can’t answer “why?” or “what?” questions
  • Doesn’t use plurals or verbs
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    Young Adults

    Preteens and teenagers are plugged into more technology than ever, putting them at a greater risk for high-frequency hearing loss. Since they often pride themselves on independence, this is where education about hearing protection is important in ensuring better hearing today and in the future. Keeping their hearing healthy is essential to their academic, social, and economical success.

    Look for these signs of hearing loss:

  • Turning up the television to an excessive volume
  • Saying “what?” frequently
  • Only responding when eye contact is made
  • Complaining of ringing in the ears or a dip in hearing ability
  • Withdrawing socially
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    If anything you’ve just read has sparked more curiosity about your child’s hearing, don’t hesitate to call an AudigyCertified™ practice. Your entire family, as well as your pediatrician, should be involved in all parts of this process.