Signs of Acquired Hearing Loss in Children
There are several causes of acquired hearing loss in children. Unfortunately, not all of them are preventable, as some are genetic or congenital in nature. Other times, recurring or chronic ear infections, or a more serious illness such as meningitis or even a head injury, can cause hearing loss in children. In some instances, exposure to excessive or extremely loud noise can cause hearing loss. Whether the cause is genetic and progressive or occurs suddenly after illness or injury, there will almost always be some signs and symptoms of diminished hearing. These will differ depending on the child’s age and developmental level.
Newborns under four months old should startle, wake up or stir when they hear loud sounds, and calm down when they hear a familiar voice. Between four and nine months your baby should notice a toy that makes noise, turn his or her head toward familiar sounds and smile when spoken to. By age fifteen months, the baby should be making babbling noises, repeat basic sounds, and respond to their name. At age two, you should notice your child speaking many words, pointing to familiar objects when they are named, and following basic commands. If your baby isn’t meeting these developmental milestones, hearing loss might be the cause.
Older children can also exhibit signs of hearing loss, which may include not understanding what you are saying, not responding when you talk to them. Often times, the first indication will be a speech and language delay. In addition, if your child doesn’t seem to be able to hear the TV, cannot understand a voice over the phone, or asks you to repeat things multiple times, consult your pediatrician.
Hearing loss in children can be transient or permanent, minor or severe. However, depending on the severity and cause, there are several treatment options including assistive devices and speech therapy. Early detection is often key to halting or slowing the progression of hearing loss. If you have suspicions or concerns about your child’s hearing, be sure to seek medical advice.