Hearing loss just doesn’t affect your grandparents. Although we typically associate hearing loss with the process of aging, many children experience hearing loss whether at birth, due to a childhood disease or other acquired factors.
Hearing Loss at Birth
Genetics, prenatal infections, or low-birth weight are contributing causes of hearing loss at birth. Fortunately, all states have some sort of newborn screening program, with 95% of all newborns in the United States screened for hearing loss while in the hospital. Should these screenings detect anything unusual, you will be referred to a hearing specialist for follow up care and a complete hearing test.
Childhood Diseases Causing Hearing Loss
Meningitis and repetitive otitis media (ear infections) are risk factors for hearing loss. With ear infections, the middle ear (the area behind the eardrum) becomes inflamed is usually associated with the buildup of fluid so that the vibrations of the bones in the middle ear cannot transmit sound efficiently. This hearing loss is usually temporary but if ear infections occur very frequently, permanent damage could occur. Keeping up to date on vaccines and treating ear infections are good preventative measures for protecting your child’s hearing from a young age.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss
Even at a young age, your child’s ears should be protected from loud noises just as in adults. Sounds of 85 decibels or more, even for 10-15 minutes can cause permanent hearing damage. Check your toys for ones that exceed this level and make sure your children don’t hold loud toys directly to their ears. Look for child size ear protection to take when you are going to a concert or other noisy event. Don’t forget to bring yours too!
How will I know if my child has hearing loss?
Even if your infant has passed the newborn hearing screening, you can be on the lookout for signs throughout their childhood.
- Babies who don’t startle at loud noises or don’t turn their heads to sounds after 6 months of age
- Delayed speech
- Doesn’t follow directions
- Turns the TV volume up too high
If you suspect any hearing loss, it is important to contact your family doctor and hearing provider. Untreated, developmental problems may occur leaving your child struggling to catch up.
Call us today at (317) 292-9854 to talk more about hearing loss in children and what screenings are appropriate for your child.
Resources: CDC – Hearing Loss in Children