A number of adults hear the constant noises caused by tinnitus (ringing in the ears), however few individuals realize it strikes children too. Many children also experience the symptoms of tinnitus. Unlike adults, who can usually figure out that the noises they keep hearing are outside of the norm, children are more likely to assume that everyone hears these sounds. Listen to your child if he or she reports tinnitus symptoms as they may be a result of an underlying problem.
Tinnitus is caused by a number of different conditions in both adults and children.
The disorder is linked to wax build-up in the ear canal, problems in the circulatory system, misaligned jaw joints, noise-induced hearing loss, and head and neck trauma. Slow-growing tumors on nerves in the face and ears can also cause tinnitus. Bring your child to your family doctor to rule out any specific ear problems. If there are not any obvious issues, you will likely be referred to an ear, nose, and throat specialist or audiologist for further investigation.
If the examination uncovers a specific reason for your child’s tinnitus, the issue can usually be alleviated by addressing the underlying problem. However, many children and adults experience tinnitus without a clear cause. In this case, there is no way to eradicate the problem, so your focus should shift to helping your child cope with the sounds he or she is hearing.
Your child may find that his or her tinnitus makes concentration difficult. One way to combat this is to provide background noise. Run a fan or soft music in the background while your child is at home. Hearing aids can be helpful for kids with hearing loss by helping them filter out distractions and focus on important sounds.
Tinnitus can cause some kids to experience psychological distress. If this is the case with your child, it is important to be reassuring and supportive. Make sure your child understands that tinnitus is a common problem that affects many other kids. Ask your audiologist about how you can explain tinnitus to your child in a way that makes sense to them. Take steps to help your child deal with stressful situations, as many children find that stress can make their tinnitus symptoms much worse.
Finally, reassure your child (and yourself) that most kids outgrow tinnitus naturally. While tinnitus can be difficult to deal with, in time your child will likely overcome it.