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Hearing Loss in Children

Hearing loss for an adult can take away a life they have grown to love and appreciate. For a child this loss is especially heartbreaking. It robs them of a quality of life and brings on numerous learning difficulties. As with adults, hearing loss in children is measured in degrees. The loss can range from mild, one that causes difficulty hearing hushed tones such as a whisper to moderately severe, where the child can still hear loud speech, to a total loss resulting in deafness.

Hearing loss in children typically falls into two main categories. The most common is a problem called SENSORINEURAL – it is a problem with the inner ear, the acoustic nerve, or both. Most physicians call this condition "nerve deafness." More than 90 percent of all hearing aid wearers have sensorineural hearing loss. Common causes of sensorineural hearing loss in children include chronic ear infections, ototoxic (damaging to the auditory system) drugs, illnesses such as meningitis or measles, head injuries, noise exposure, and genetic factors.

The second most common type of hearing loss is CONDUCTIVE. Conductive hearing loss is due to any condition that interferes with the transmission of sound through the outer and middle ear to the inner ear. This type of hearing loss can be successfully treated in most cases. Conductive loss may result from earwax blocking the ear canal, fluid in the middle ear, middle ear infection, obstructions in the ear canal, perforations (hole) in the eardrum or disease of any of the three middle ear bones. Children with conductive hearing loss may notice their ears seem to be full or plugged. Children may speak softly because they hear their own voice loudly. Crunchy foods, such as celery or carrots, seem very loud to a child with a conductive hearing loss and this person may have to stop chewing to hear what is being said.

Symptoms of Hearing Loss in Children

Newborn / Infant:
• Not startling at loud noises
• Does not respond to parent’s voice
• Not calming to familiar sounds
• Does not move eyes toward sounds
• Not making babbling sounds

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
• Seem to be distracted all the time
• Has articulation or speech problems
• Watching others to imitate what they are doing