How to spot hearing loss in children

Any loving parent wants to ensure their child is as healthy as possible and that they reach all the important milestones of childhood. Ensuring your child's hearing is within normal ranges is simply part of that overall process.

Hearing is essential to the development of your child's speech, cognitive awareness and social interaction. That is why it is so important to have your child's hearing tested regularly  from birth and throughout all their developmental stages. That way, if your child has hearing loss, intervention and treatment can happen as soon as possible.

Hearing loss in children that is undetected and/or untreated can lead to social exclusion and lower educational achievement than experienced by people with normal hearing levels.

Why children have hearing loss

Identifying hearing loss in children can be simplified by better understanding its causes. Some of the main causes of hearing loss in children include:

  • Untreated and frequent ear infections
  • Premature birth
  • Infections such as meningitis and cytomegalovirus
  • Illnesses such as measles, flu and chickenpox
  • Family hearing loss
  • Birth-related causes
  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Ototoxic medicines

When should you test a child’s hearing?

Screening a newborn child will identify any hearing loss. However, sometimes a child’s hearing difficulties may not come to light until later on, especially if they have experienced infections, trauma or been exposed to loud noise.

Some countries offer newborn hearing screening. For example, if you are in the US, your new born baby should have their hearing screened before hospital discharge under the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention program. 

If you have a newborn baby who doesn’t pass the screening test, they will need to have their diagnosis confirmed after three months, and treatment initiated by six months. After this, your child should be tested regularly by a trained physician or hearing specialist.

Noticing hearing loss in children

There are a number of indicators you can watch out for and they differ between newborns, toddlers and children.

Newborns

If you notice that your baby:

  • Does not startle, wake up or stir at sudden and/or loud noise
  • Does not respond to your voice aged 3 months+
  • Does not imitate certain words or sounds such as 'dada' or 'mama' aged 12 months

then it may be time for you to arrange a hearing test for your child and find out more information on child hearing loss.

Toddlers and pre-school children

As your baby develops, if your child potentially has hearing loss you may notice that he or she:

  • Finds it difficult to learn
  • Doesn’t respond if you say their name
  • Speaks differently to other children
  • Has no speech or speech that is limited and poor
  • Lacks concentration or is inattentive
  • Doesn’t reply to normal pitch speech
  • Misunderstands questions or conversation
  • Needs music or TV volume up higher
  • Shows signs of being frustrated in situations where there’s a lot of background noise, for example, in a group situation
  • Complains of ear pain

If you spot some or all of the above symptoms, then it would be wise for you to book your child a hearing test.

Next steps

If you are worried about your child’s hearing, then it’s wise to act quickly. Note down examples of your concerns so that you can discuss them with a trained hearing professional. Your child will be given a number of painless and thorough hearing tests. Once you have the results, you and your audiologist can discuss any possible treatment your child may need.

With you on your journey to better hearing.

It's time to finally treat your hearing loss. Sign up for a free consultation with a licensed hearing care professional today to determine if you have hearing loss. It’s the start of your journey towards better hearing.

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