Hearing loss at any age is an emotional issue. It robs you of a sense that adds so much to the richness of life. This loss is especially heartbreaking in children. Not only does it impact the sound experience of a life yet to be lived to the fullest, but it also creates a barrier to a child’s number one job, learning. Fortunately, many causes of hearing loss are treatable, and it is often possible to return the sounds of childhood to a young life.
Categories of Hearing Loss
Unlike adults, hearing loss in children is most commonly conductive hearing loss, rather than sensorineural hearing loss. As with adults, hearing loss in children is measured in degrees: It can range from mild (one that causes difficulty hearing hushed tones such as a whisper) to moderate (where the child can still hear loud speech) to a complete loss of hearing.
Conductive Hearing Loss
The most common type of hearing loss in children is a conductive hearing loss associated with conditions in the external or middle ear that block the transmission of sound. In children these conditions are most typically otitis media, impacted cerumen, a perforated eardrum, or birth defects that alter the structure of the external auditory canal and/or middle-ear system. Most conductive hearing losses are medically treatable through antibiotics and/or surgery.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural loss is the second most common type of hearing loss, resulting from damage to the cochlea (inner ear) and the auditory nerve. Sensorineural hearing loss in children is often congenital. Other causes of sensorineural hearing loss include ototoxic medications, premature birth, and illnesses. Sensorineural hearing loss is not medically treatable; however, in most cases, children can be helped with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Symptoms and Signs of Possible Hearing Loss in Children
Signs of possible hearing loss in children range from not startling at loud sounds to speech delay to academic difficulties, depending on the age of the child.
Newborn / Infant:
- Not startling at loud noises
- Not showing normal speech development
Toddler and Older:
- Sitting close to the television with the sound turned up to a loud volume
- Having difficulty in school
- Not responding to someone that is talking without being face to face
- Stating that he/she is having difficulty hearing
If you believe your child has a hearing loss, please contact our office in Albuquerque or Rio Rancho to meet with our audiologist. Timely hearing testing, diagnosis and treatment will provide the best course of action ensuring the highest quality lifetime experiences for your child.