A child who has hearing loss will have difficulty detecting sounds which are made in the normal speech range. This condition may be present from birth, or it may appear as the child develops. When babies are born with birth defects, they have an increased risk losing their hearing. While the majority of deaf children are born to parents with normal hearing, this condition may be inherited.
Types of Hearing Loss
In most cases, hearing problems will not be detected in children until they reach the ages of 2 to 4. The most important period for the development of language in children is age 3. If hearing problems are not detected by the time a baby is six months old, this can dramatically impact their ability to develop speech skills. There are two broad types of hearing loss, and these are peripheral hearing loss and central hearing loss. Central hearing loss involves the difficulty of the child’s brain to process information. Peripheral hearing loss involves problems with the structure of the ear. Other types of hearing difficulties include:
Conductive hearing problems are the most common in children, and appear when the ear blocks the transmission of sound. This problem may be temporary or permanent, and may be present in one ear or both. In some cases conductive hearing loss may be a result of defects that the child is born with, but it may also appear as the child grows as a result of ear infections. Other factors that can lead to conductive hearing problems include a buildup of earwax, a perforated eardrum or objects within the ear.
Sensorineural hearing problems involve issues with sound processing by the hair cells (cilia) which are deep inside the ear, and which are responsible for transferring sound to the brain. Hearing loss that results from this condition is permanent, and will affect both of the child’s ears. Like other hearing problems, it may be present from birth or may develop later on. Some factors which can lead to sensorineural hearing loss include infection, head injury, extreme noises and toxic medications. Additionally, the condition may be inherited.
Signs of Hearing Loss
A child who is has hearing difficulties will demonstrate a number of warning signs. Some of these are:
- Listening to music or the television at higher volumes than normal
- Needs to have information repeated
- Has difficulty in school
- Has a problem with language or speech
- Is inattentive
- Complains about hearing or blocked ears
Hearing Loss Diagnosis
It is critical for parents and doctors to identify infant and child hearing loss as soon as possible. Ideally, this should be before the child reaches 6 months. Too often, hearing problems aren’t discovered in children until they are being evaluated for performance problems in school, and even a minimal loss of hearing in a single ear can dramatically impact a child’s ability to develop language skills. Dr. Samadi will review the medical history of the child and will also perform physical examinations of the ear. This will help us to determine the cause of the hearing problems and develop an accurate diagnosis.