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Everything You Need To Know About Hearing Loss In Children

child getting hearing test done

Unlike some illnesses and conditions, most children that suffer from hearing loss are born to parents who have normal hearing. Because of this, a parent who has a child who has hearing loss may be completely in the dark about what it means for their child and what they should do about it. As is the case with many things that you know nothing about, the best way to navigate through issues with hearing with your child is to educate yourself about the disorder as much as possible so that you can best learn how to treat the hearing condition as well as the resources that are available to you.

Common Reasons For Hearing Loss In Kids

There are three common ways that children can come to suffer from hearing loss. The first is that they're born with hearing issues. When a child is born with problems hearing, it's usually genetic and there's nothing that their parents could have done to prevent it, but there are cases were hearing loss can happen if your child is born prematurely, if they were born to a mother with certain health issues while pregnant or if there was some negligence with prenatal care. Your child can also lose their hearing because of an illness, including an ear infection.

Hearing Test baby , Cortical auditory evoked potential analyzer. hearing screening
Credit: iStock

The Newborn Check For Hearing

Before you take your newborn home from the hospital, doctors will perform hearing tests to ensure that they don't suffer from hearing loss at birth. Assuming that your child did not and that they start to suffer from hearing loss later in life, there are some signs that you can look out for as a parent. If your child starts to lose their hearing, you may notice that they don't react to loud sounds the way that they used to. Maybe it used to startle them or make them jump, but now they're completely unphased and oblivious to them. You may also notice that your child isn't always responsive to you when you call their name or when you're speaking to them.

Ear Infection Linked To Hearing Loss

If your child has otitis media, a type of ear infection that can lead to hearing loss, they may suffer from the following physical symptoms. You may notice them pulling or rubbing on their ear often. They may also complain about ear pain, low energy levels, have a fever or be crankier than normal. You may also notice that they don't pay attention as well as they once did, nor do they understand directions as well as they used to. They may also show the first signs of hearing loss by asking for the volume to be turned up on certain devices more than they previously did. I

t's extremely important to watch out for signs of an ear infection because if treated early enough, it often doesn't have to lead to hearing loss. Most ear infections will go away on their own, but it's always best to consult with your doctor if you suspect that your child has one. If your doctor confirms that your child has an ear infection, they may be able to prescribe a medicine to help them heal or if your child gets ear infections often, recommend that your child get ear tubes to help drain fluids in the ears that can help prevent future infections.

Young boy at medical examination or checkup in otolaryngologist's office
Credit: iStock

Early Treatment For Hearing Loss In Kids Is Key

Once you've determined that there may be a problem with your child's hearing, the most important thing that you can do as a parent is to seek treatment. Because hearing is believed to be the first part of learning language, if a hearing problem goes unnoticed, it may lead to problems with talking. In fact, if your child is a late talker, trouble hearing is often one of the first things that they try to eliminate as a cause.

There may be nothing that you can do to prevent your child from losing their hearing but in some cases, you may at a minimum be able to prevent it from getting any worse or get devices like hearing aids or implants that will help to restore some of the hearing loss.

Hearing Loss & Kids At School

The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) dictates that kids that suffer from hearing loss have access to help and education from birth and all throughout their school years. With early help, your child can learn how to communicate through speech, signing, or a mix of the two. Seeking early treatment will help set up a child with a loss of hearing to get the most out of these tools and help the whole family find the support and resources that they need to thrive.

READ NEXT: Even Mild Hearing Loss In Kids Leads To Changes In How The Brain Processes Sounds

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