Hearing loss in children not only impacts the sound experience of a life yet to be lived to the fullest, but it also creates a barrier to a child’s number-one job: learning.
Fortunately, many causes of hearing loss are treatable, and it is often possible to return the sounds of childhood to a young life. At Whittier Hearing Center, we treat patients of all ages, and we take particular pleasure in helping children with hearing loss, who have so much ahead of them to hear and learn.
Categories of Hearing Loss That Affect Children
Unlike adults, hearing loss in children is most commonly conductive hearing loss, rather than sensorineural hearing loss. As with adults, hearing loss in children is measured in degrees: It can range from mild (one that causes difficulty hearing hushed tones such as a whisper) to moderate (where the child can still hear loud speech) to a complete loss of hearing.
Conductive Hearing Loss
The most common type of hearing loss in children is a conductive hearing loss associated with conditions in the external or middle ear that block the transmission of sound. In children these conditions are most typically otitis media, impacted cerumen, a perforated eardrum, or birth defects that alter the structure of the external auditory canal and/or middle-ear system. Most conductive hearing losses are medically treatable through antibiotics and/or surgery.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural loss is the second most common type of hearing loss, resulting from damage to the cochlea (inner ear) and the auditory nerve. Sensorineural hearing loss in children is often congenital. Other causes of sensorineural hearing loss include ototoxic medications, premature birth, and illnesses. Sensorineural hearing loss is not medically treatable; however, in most cases, children can be helped with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss in Children
Signs of possible hearing loss in children range from not startling at loud sounds to speech delay to academic difficulties, depending on the age of the child.
- Not startling at loud noises
- Unable to localize sound
- Not showing normal speech development
Toddler and Older:
- Speech and language delays
- Academic difficulties/delays
- Needing louder than “normal” volume to hear television
- Needing multiple verbal repetitions
- Stating that he/she is having difficulty hearing
If you believe your child has a hearing loss, please come to our office in Whittier to meet with one of our audiologists. Timely hearing testing, diagnosis, and treatment will provide the best course of action, ensuring the highest-quality lifetime experiences for your child.
Contact us today to book your appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Most children receive their first hearing screening shortly after birth. All states have implemented newborn hearing screenings into hospitals and birthing clinics, and most screenings happen before the parent and child are discharged. If the child does not pass the test twice, they are referred to an audiologist for further testing.
While the types of hearing loss in children are the same as in adults (conductive, sensorineural, and mixed), there are differences in what they are more susceptible to. For example, teens are at a greater risk for high-frequency hearing loss because of their lifestyle choices (loud concerts, music volume), while younger children may experience conductive hearing loss caused by otitis media or an ear infection. This is usually because the eustachian tube — the passage between the middle ear and the back of the throat — isn’t able to drain because of its shorter passage and horizontal setting.
The sooner the issue is addressed, the better the chances of successful treatment. If you believe your child has a hearing loss, please contact us for an appointment. Our practice provides family-centered treatment that focuses on thorough hearing testing, diagnosis, and follow-up appointments if necessary.
Your baby should have a basic newborn hearing screening performed before being discharged from the hospital. If your infant has not had this yet, it is important to have your child’s hearing evaluated, preferably within the first three weeks of life. Kids who seem to have normal hearing should continue to have their hearing evaluated at regular checkups. Typically, hearing tests are scheduled at ages 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, and 18.
Children who seem inattentive may be experiencing hearing loss. Other signs:
• Infants and newborns may not startle at sounds or respond to whispers
• Speech may be delayed or unclear
• Turning up the television volume too high
• Asking “what?” often
Earbuds allow us to listen to music anywhere, anytime, and for long periods of time. This is the perfect storm for hearing loss, as the decibel level (the sound pressure) and the length of listening time affect how much damage is done. Loud music destroys the fine hairs that stimulate auditory nerve fibers, which send signals to the brain to interpret sound. Sound becomes damaging at 85 decibels (the sound level of a bulldozer idling). Listen to your MP3 player at about 70% to avoid damage. Or try the 60/60 rule: Listen to your device at 60% volume for 60 minutes at a time.
13121 E. Philadelphia St.
Whittier, CA 90601