It is a common belief that hearing loss only affects seniors. You may not think you’re at risk, and you definitely don’t think your kids could have hearing loss. Surely those energetic kids that run you off your feet every day couldn’t be suffering from hearing loss! The truth is, hearing loss can occur to anyone at any age, and pediatric hearing loss is a lot more common than you’d think. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of hearing loss, so you can catch it as soon as possible and seek treatment right away.
Pediatric Hearing Loss
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 2 to 3 of every 1,000 kids are born with hearing loss, and in school aged children, 15% are struggling to hear. So, what causes pediatric hearing loss? As with hearing loss among adults, there are many different causes.
Some children suffer from congenital hearing loss, or hearing loss present at birth. This can be hereditary or due to prenatal infections or illness. The most common cause of hearing loss among young children is childhood illness or infection that damages the ear.
Otitis Media and Hearing Loss
One common infection among children is otitis media, an inflammation in the middle ear that comes with a dangerous buildup of fluid, known usually as ear infection. Children often suffer from otitis media because their Eustachian tubes, the canals that connect the ear to the back of the nose, are very short because your child is still growing and thus, are easily blocked. They aren’t able to regulate or drain fluid when your child is experiencing a cold or a runny nose. This blockage can lead to the build-up of fluid that starts the inflammation.
Recent studies show that 75% children will experience at least one bout of otitis media by the time they are three years old, and many of these children experience fluctuating hearing loss due to the infection. In mild cases, the fluid is thin and clear, and not always linked to hearing loss. In severe cases, the fluid is thick, gunky, and infected. It causes pain and discomfort, and can quickly cause permanent hearing loss.
How are Children with Hearing Loss Affected?
Hearing loss in children has a profound impact on the rest of their lives. The early childhood years are a critical period when an incredible amount of development takes place. Hearing plays a big part in that development. With compromised hearing abilities, speech and language development may be affected, since your child may struggle to learn through listening to and interacting with others.
With limited language and verbal skills, emotional, social, and intellectual development may be affected, and your child may suffer both socially and academically. Even children with mild hearing loss, or who have hearing loss in only one ear, experience developmental delays. They perform much worse than their hearing peers, and are often held back a grade.
Early intervention is Key
To give your child the opportunity to grow and learn with their peers, early intervention is key. If you suspect that your child has otitis media, even if your child isn’t experiencing any pain, there are a few tell-tale signs of fluid in the ear you can watch for. Your child will be more likely to pull or scratch at the ears, and be irritable. They will have disruptions in hearing such as misunderstanding what’s been said, being uncharacteristically inattentive, or not responding appropriately.
Ear infections must be treated as soon as possible. Visit your pediatrician immediately if you suspect an ear infection or a build-up of fluid. It is also important to seek a hearing test. Visit us at Preferred Hearing Centers for a hearing assessment. If a hearing loss is detected, it is important to seek treatment immediately.
Treating hearing loss will allow your child to grow up without facing developmental delays, so they can be happy and healthy, reach their goals, and lead productive and fulfilling lives. Through our hearing exams, we determine the presence and severity of the hearing impairment and suggest the treatment that will allow your child to continue growing and developing naturally. We also recommend regular screenings throughout infancy and childhood since these are such critical years for your child’s development.
If you suspect your child has hearing loss, don’t waste another day. Visit us at Preferred Hearing Centers for a hearing assessment, and give your child the best life has to offer.