Good hearing is essential for every aspect of a child’s life. Not only does hearing affect communication and social interactions, but children will have a hard time keeping up in school if they are experiencing hearing loss.
As a parent, you can be proactive in checking your child’s ear and schedule hearing tests as needed. A few simple steps can help you monitor hearing development to ensure that your child has the optimal hearing that is possible.
Causes of Hearing Loss in Children
Hearing loss is most common in adults, but children can also have conditions that cause them to lose their hearing. Most of the time, hearing loss occurs later in life due to aging and repeated exposures that can damage the ears. But these conditions don’t typically apply to younger children.
Here are some of the most common causes of childhood hearing loss.
- Ear infections
- Medications that damage the ears
- Fluid in the ear that isn’t draining
Hearing can be affected when damage occurs to one or more parts of the ears. Other problems can also contribute to hearing loss, such as an issue with the nerves that send the sound signals to the brain or a problem with the part of the brain that is processing these signals.
Why Childhood Hearing Loss Should Be Addressed Immediately
Even if your child only has mild hearing loss, it can undeniably impact many parts of their life. A child needs hearing to participate in school, social activities, family interactions, and more.
In fact, children with even a little bit of hearing loss will likely have problems with language, speech, learning, and social skills.
So, it’s important to check your child’s hearing regularly. Catching hearing loss in the earliest stages is the best solution for early intervention, which helps to minimize the complications and developmental delays that often occur.
Signs Your Child Might Be Experiencing Hearing Loss
How do you know if your child is experiencing hearing loss? Every parent should be watching for these common signs.
- Scratching or pulling at the ears
- Unexplained irritability
- Always wanting to turn up the volume on the TV or radio
- Speech delays
- School performance issues
- Misunderstanding directions
Suggested Schedule for Hearing Tests
Talk to our Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat team, and we can offer a personalized schedule for when your child should get hearing tests. Following this schedule will improve the outcome of potential treatments through early intervention.
Even newborns undergo a series of hearing tests because treatments are most successful in the first 6 months of life (when a child is born with hearing loss). Therefore, before leaving the hospital, every newborn is tested for hearing function.
If your baby is born at a birthing center or home, it’s best to have a hearing test within the first 3 weeks of life.
Here is an overview of the best schedule to follow for regular hearing tests.
- Childhood: Every other year, starting at age 4
- Preteen Years: Once during the preteen years or as needed
- Teenage Years: Once during the teenage years or as needed
If there is a concern, the doctor might recommend hearing tests more frequently.
The Different Between Hearing Tests and Hearing Screening at School
Many schools have annual screening sessions, and parents assume that these screenings are sufficient for checking each child’s ears. But it’s important to understand that these screenings are the most basic form to test a person’s ability to hear.
Generally, hearing screenings (such as those done at a child’s school) are the preliminary tests to determine whether in-depth testing is necessary. During the screening, the child puts on a set of headphones, and an assessment is done using different frequencies and tones.
Typically, hearing screenings are pass-or-fail tests. If the child fails, then it’s strongly recommended that parents take the child to a hearing specialist for more advanced testing.
On the other hand, hearing tests not only tell if the ears are working but how the components of the ears are functioning. A full hearing evaluation involves a series of tests, such as:
- Speech Testing: To determine how well the child can hear speech when another person is talking.
- Tympanometry: Using a small amount of air to see if there is fluid backed up in the middle ear. This test evaluates the functioning of the middle ear and is especially important for children with a history of ear infections.
- Acoustic Reflex: This test checks the response of a tiny muscle located in the ear that reacts to sound.
Using multiple hearing tests will allow the audiologist to determine whether your child is experiencing hearing loss, potential causes, and possible treatment options.
Hearing Loss Treatments for Children
Even though it can be devastating to learn that your child is suffering from hearing loss, this diagnosis is important because you can seek treatment options.
The priority is first to determine whether hearing loss is occurring, then identify the underlying cause of the hearing loss. When an ENT or audiologist knows the cause of hearing issues, an effective treatment plan can be started.
Certain types of hearing loss might be temporary or reversible. For example, if the hearing issues are caused by a buildup of wax in the ear, then cleaning the wax can open the ear canal and restore hearing once again.
On the other hand, there are many types of hearing loss that are irreversible. Once the damage is done, there is no way to cure the condition and restore hearing. But there are options to amplify available hearing and maximize the child’s experience as much as possible.
Here is an overview of potential hearing interventions that can help children (and adults) optimize their hearing.
- Traditional hearing aids
- Cochlear implants
- Bone-anchored hearing aids
- Other assistive devices (FM system, captioning, telephone amplifiers, audio look systems, TTY, etc.)
Schedule a Consultation with a Hearing Expert
Not only do you need to seek immediate support if you suspect hearing loss, but it’s also important to work with an ENT or audiologist on an ongoing basis. These continuing services ensure that your child can hear as well as possible, even if their ears continue to change in the coming months and years.
Do you live in Collin County or Dallas and need to schedule a hearing test? Then reach out to our pro team at Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat. We make it as convenient as possible by offering locations in both Plano and Frisco, TX. You will find our online form to schedule a time to come in, or call: (972) 596-4005.