Based on statistics from the National Institutes of Health, out of every 1,000 children in the United States, 2 to 3 are born deaf or with impaired hearing. Childhood hearing loss may be brought on by developmental abnormalities in the ear, by a middle ear infection called otitis media, by injury or loud noises, or by illnesses such as measles, meningitis, or chickenpox. Whatever the cause, testing hearing early is key, because the sooner any hearing problems are detected, the better the child’s chances of attaining their full educational and developmental potential.
Fortunately, there are a number of indications of possible hearing loss that you, as a parent, can watch for.
In babies, such signs include the child failing to be startled by loud noises, turning his or her head when he sees you but not when you call his or her name, not turning toward the source of a sound after the age of 6 months, or seeming to hear some sounds, but not others.
Otitis media will often cause children to complain of ear pain, but other signs to look for are pulling at or rubbing the ears, failing to understand instructions or increasing the TV volume. Other warning signs are if your child uses the words “huh?” or “what?” many times a day, has difficulty locating the source of sounds, or watches people’s faces carefully as they are speaking. Hearing loss is a serious concern. Even mild hearing loss can lead to delays in language and speech development and manifest in poor school performance.
To aid in early detection, many states have mandatory early hearing screenings. These are painless tests often performed at the hospital after birth or in public schools. Children are never too young to have their hearing tested, because the sooner hearing problems are identified, the sooner they can be corrected. So give us a call. We’d be happy to schedule a hearing screening for your child or children and to help if any hearing problems are found.