Hearing loss in children is not uncommon, and it affects kids’ lives in numerous, devastating ways. It can interfere with children’s social skills, affect speech development, and make it difficult for them to learn in school. So if you suspect your child may suffer from hearing loss, contact an experienced audiologist for a hearing evaluation as soon as possible. In addition, all children should have their hearing tested before entering school. If left untreated, hearing loss could prevent your child from reaching his or her full potential.
Hearing Loss in Children
How prevalent is hearing loss in children? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 15 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 19 have low- or high-frequency hearing loss of at least a 16-decibel hearing level in one or both of their ears. Meanwhile, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association reports that 8 percent of Americans with hearing loss that is rated severe to profound are under the age of 18. Clearly, hearing loss can be a real problem for kids, so any indication that it is present should be checked out without delay.
What Can Cause Hearing Loss in a Child?
Hearing loss is often divided into two categories: congenital and acquired. Congenital hearing loss is present at birth and can be the result of the child’s genes, a brain or nervous system disorder, birth complications, exposure to infections before birth, or medications used during the pregnancy. Acquired hearing loss occurs after birth and can be triggered by a wide assortment of things. Potential causes include untreated ear infections, various diseases, head injuries, medications, exposure to loud sounds, and perforated ear drums.
Is Your Child Dealing with Hearing Loss?
Even children who can talk readily may not tell their parents that they have difficulty hearing. However, there are various behaviors that can indicate that your child may have a problem. You should schedule an appointment for a hearing evaluation if your child exhibits some of the following symptoms:
- Asks people to repeat themselves frequently
- Often says that he or she didn’t hear you
- Shifts his or her head to move one ear forward when listening
- Stares at you intently when you talk
- Wants the volume turned up louder than others do
- Seems to hear well sometimes but is unresponsive at other times
- Mentions having a “good ear” or a “bad ear”
- Is having problems at school, like failing grades or inattentiveness
- Begins talking more loudly than before
Testing for Hearing Loss in Children
Whether you have noted one or more of the symptoms listed above or you simply suspect there’s a problem, schedule an appointment with an audiologist right away. We also encourage all parents to have their children’s hearing tested before they start school. The sooner any problems are identified, the faster treatment can begin.
A skilled audiologist can test children of all ages for hearing loss. The child’s age, their ability to cooperate with testing, and any information already known about their hearing will determine how testing proceeds. Regardless of the exact methodology utilized, the audiologist’s goal is the same: to identify the degree and type of hearing loss and to evaluate the conditions of the middle ear and ear canal. They will also pinpoint whether the problem is conductive (an issue of the outer or middle ear) or sensorineural (caused by the inner ear or a central processing issue within the brain).
While the specific tests used depend on the patient, a diagnostic audiological evaluation generally includes the following:
- Pure-Tone Air Testing: This identifies the quietest tones that a child can hear at various frequencies.
- Bone-Conduction Testing: This testing aids in pinpointing the area of the ear that is the origin of the problem.
- Speech Testing: Used with older children, a speech reception threshold test determines the lowest level at which they can recognize words.
An audiological evaluation can determine if hearing loss is present and provide invaluable information regarding the type of hearing loss and its severity. It may also suggest the possible cause of the hearing loss. Any data gained through this evaluation can be utilized to formulate a treatment plan.
At Apex Audiology, we understand how important your child’s hearing is. Our team of experienced professionals will work with you to identify any issues, educate you about treatment options, and help you select the best course for your child. We can provide a wide range of treatments, including hearing aids that are made to appeal to children, like the Phonak Sky Q. If you live in Colorado, contact us online or by calling 719-247-9000 to schedule an appointment or request more information.