Children learn to communicate by imitating the sounds they hear so early detection of hearing problems is vital!
What is hearing loss?
Hearing loss refers to the decreased ability to hear and discriminate between sounds leading to communication difficulties. Hearing loss occurs gradually; it is one of the most common long-term health problems and it can affect people of all ages.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 466 million people have disabling hearing loss and 34 million of these are children. Research has shown that 2-3 out of 1000 babies are born with hearing loss and another 2-3 out of 100 develop some form of hearing loss in the first years of their life.
What are the risk factors for hearing loss in children?
A risk factor is a condition that increases the chances of getting a disorder. Risk factors for hearing loss in children include:
- The child was born prematurely
- Stayed in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)
- Complications through child birth
- Craniofacial abnormalities (the head, face, or ears are shaped differently)
- Family history of hearing loss
- Frequent ear infections
- Ototoxic medicines (damaging to the auditory system).
- Syndromes that are associated with hearing loss, like Alport syndrome, Crouzon syndrome, Down syndrome or Usher syndrome
- Certain diseases, such as syphilis, rubella, and bacterial meningitis
- Head trauma (injury)
How do I know if my child has hearing loss?
The most critical period for children’s speech and language development is before the age of 4. It is important to recognize any signs of hearing loss as early as possible.
During their first 12 months:
-- Most newborn infants startle or "jump" to sudden loud noises.
-- By 3 months a baby usually recognizes a parent's voice.
-- By 6 months an infant can usually turn his or her eyes or head toward a sound.
-- By 12 months a child can usually imitate some sounds and produce a few words, such as "Mama" or "bye-bye".
In a toddler potential hearing loss may be detected if they show the following symptoms:
-- Limited, poor, or no speech
-- Frequently inattentive
-- Difficulty in learning
-- Need to turn up the TV volume
-- Fails to respond to conversation-level speech or answers inappropriately to speech
In pre-school or older children signs of potential hearing loss include:
-- Turning up the volume of the TV excessively high
-- Responding inappropriately to questions
-- Not replying when he/she is called
-- Watching others to imitate what they are doing
-- Experience articulation problems or speech/language delays
-- Having problems academically
-- Complaining of earaches, ear pain or head noises
-- Having difficulty understanding what people are saying
-- Seem to speak differently from other children of own age
If you are concerned about any of the above factors of potential hearing loss in your child make sure you get proper professional advice.
We recommend regular evaluation of children's hearing
Newborn babies should be given a Hearing Screening soon after birth. If your baby didn't have this it is important to contact the center for preventative pediatrics and arrange a Hearing Screening at your earliest convenience. Early detection of hearing losses is vital as learning spoken or signed languages becomes harder the later the hearing loss is detected. In fact, research suggests that children with hearing loss who get help early develop better language skills than those who don't.
Sometimes hearing problems in children don’t emerge until later in childhood when they may be subject to infections, trauma or damaging noise levels. It is important to recognize that the stress on a child with hearing loss and on their family can be enormous, as the child doesn’t understand why it is a constant struggle to learn simple things, and the family can’t understand why their child is not doing well. With early identification and treatment the impact of hearing loss can be lessened and a professional hearing test can eliminate hearing loss as a potential condition that could be adversely impacting a child’s development. Hearing tests should be carried out whenever you have any concerns about possible hearing loss of a child.
Types of Hearing Loss
The type of hearing loss determines the specific treatment required. There are three types of hearing loss:
Conductive Hearing Loss: Caused by any condition or disease that blocks or impedes the transmission of sound through the middle ear resulting in a reduction in the sound level (loudness) that reaches the cochlea. This can be caused by something as simple as earwax build-up! In most cases treatment produces a complete or partial improvement in hearing.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss: A loss or distortion of sound transmission resulting from damage to the inner ear hair cells or to any of the pathway from the inner ear to the auditory cortex of the brain. This type of hearing loss is usually permanent and irreversible. The treatment for sensorineural hearing loss is amplification through hearing aids.
Mixed Hearing Loss: This is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
NOTE: Not all hearing loss can be corrected through the use of hearing aids.
For more information, please contact Hear More 4 Less at +357 99350298, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. George Panayiotou, Au.D., CCC-A, FAAA