Hearing loss is not confined to older adults; children of all ages can experience a loss of hearing. Roughly three out of 1000 babies are born with hearing loss. The prevalence of hearing loss in adolescents is on the rise, and exposure to excessively loud noise (including music and gaming) is largely the cause of this increase. If you suspect that your child is experiencing difficulty hearing, please seek medical attention as soon as possible. Delaying assessment can have a strong effect on a child’s learning and social development.
What Causes Hearing Loss in Children
Hearing loss in children can be caused by congenital factors such as genetics, premature birth, low birth weight, jaundice, maternal diabetes, preeclampsia, baby not receiving enough oxygen (anoxia), cytomegalovirus, malformation of the ear, or infections such as rubella or the herpes simplex virus. Hearing loss can also be acquired after birth from such things as ear infections, meningitis, measles, mumps, head injury, encephalitis, ototoxic medication, or exposure to excessively loud sounds.
What Are the Symptoms of Hearing Loss?
How can you tell if your child may have a hearing loss? There are a number of signs that should prompt you to have your child tested as soon as possible. These include the following:
- A delay in development of speech and language.
- Failure to respond to sounds or your voice appropriately.
- Frequent ear infections.
- Poor academic performance.
- Family history of hearing loss.
- Disorders associated with hearing loss (i.e. Down’s Syndrome, Usher’s Syndrome).
How Is Hearing Loss Treated?
Three are numerous options for treating hearing loss in children, depending on the type and severity of their condition. Your child’s doctor may initially take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to otitis media (middle ear infection), but chronic cases may be treated with medications and then possibly ear tubes that are inserted surgically into the eardrums to allow fluid to drain from the ears. Sometimes, hearing loss is caused by a build-up of cerumen (wax) in the child’s ear canal, and this can be safely removed by an ENT physician.
Permanent hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other hearing devices that enable a child to communicate.
The earlier you act, the less chance of your child experiencing speech and language difficulties as the result of hearing impairment.
Call Advanced Ear, Nose & Throat at (702) 834-5886 for more information or to schedule an appointment.