When a child is born with a hearing loss, it’s more likely than not that the parents have normal hearing, so the entire family can have much to learn about living with a hearing loss.
A child may be diagnosed when s/he’s born, or might be diagnosed later in childhood. The most important thing is early detection leading to proper treatment as soon as possible. The more you learn about the condition, the better you can get your child the help they need so they can learn, play, and keep up with friends and classmates.
The causes of hearing loss in children include:
Congenital conditions. Some children are born with hearing problems. Often these problems are genetic in origin. Others happen during pregnancy. Hearing loss can also happen when a pregnancy is complicated by medical problems like diabetes or preeclampsia. A baby born prematurely is at higher risk as well.
Otitis media. A middle ear infection that occurs often in young children when the tubes that connect the middle ear to the nose, called Eustachian tubes, are not properly formed. Fluid builds up behind the eardrum and infection can follow. Even if there is no infection or pain, the fluid can affect hearing if it remains in place, even for a short time. In severe and long-lasting cases, otitis media can lead to permanent hearing loss.
Illness or injury. Young children can lose their hearing after they get some illnesses, including encephalitis, meningitis, measles, chickenpox, or the flu. Injuries to the head, very loud noises, and certain medications can also cause hearing loss.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss in Children
Unless your child was diagnosed with hearing loss at birth, you’ll probably be the first person to notice if he has trouble picking up on sounds.
Some early signs of a problem include:
- Not reacting to loud noises
- Not responding to your voice
- Making simple sounds that taper off
- A child with otitis media may also:
— Pull or rub an ear
— Often be cranky for no clear reason
— Have trouble paying attention and have little energy
— Not understand directions
— Often ask for the TV or radio to be louder
If you notice these signs in your child, contact Dr. Dena Riso at Peninsula Hearing Center. All children should have their first hearing examination beginning at age 4.