Hearing Loss in Children
The loss of hearing at an early age can be a traumatic experience for any child. Hearing loss at any age can be difficult to accept, but for younger children the effects may be even severe since it interferes not only with their daily life but also hampers their ability to learn.
Pediatric hearing loss can occur at any age in children and thankfully, some forms of hearing loss can be treated if detected early. Hearing loss ranges in severity from mild to severe. Mild forms of hearing loss include a child’s inability to distinguish noises made in hushed tones, especially the sound of someone whispering. Moderate hearing loss can occur when a child is able to hear speech in a loud volume, while severe hearing loss results in complete lack of hearing.
There are two main types of hearing loss, the most widespread of which is conductive hearing loss which occurs in blockage of sound transmission from the outer or middle ear. Causes for conductive hearing loss can be due to impacted cerumen (or earwax), perforated eardrums, birth defects, or otitis media. Most forms of conductive hearing loss can be treated through medications or surgery.
Another type of hearing loss is sensorineural hearing loss which occurs as a result of damage caused in the inner ear, primarily the cochlea and/or the auditory nerve. This type of hearing loss can be innate while other factors such as premature birth, certain ailments, and ototoxic medications can also result in sensorineural hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is usually untreatable through medical intervention, although cochlear implants or hearing devices can be used to alleviate the hearing loss.
Central hearing loss is another form of hearing loss that occurs in the auditory areas within the brain that results in impairment of speech processing or interpretation of auditory information. This type of hearing loss is known as central auditory processing disorder or auditory processing disorder.
The symptoms of hearing loss can be different at different ages. In newborn children they may show have no startled response to loud noises, may not be able to locate the source of sounds, or may show no regular attempts to develop their speech.
Toddlers and older children may indicate delays in their language development, difficulties in following academic activities and instructions, requiring verbal repetitions for tasks, report difficulty in hearing or listen to television at a louder volume than acceptable.
If you suspect that your child may have some form of hearing loss, ensure that you get their hearing checked in a timely manner so that their hearing impairment can be adequately addressed.