Hearing loss is one of the alarming conditions in today’s world. More and more people are losing their hearing abilities due to various reasons. According to WHO, around 432 million people around the world are suffering from hearing loss, among them, 34 million patients are children. According to research conducted in 2017, two babies among one thousand are screened for hearing loss. However, the earliest diagnoses and treatments have proven to be significantly effective in treating hearing loss. Additionally, the children who got early treatment for hearing loss have often been seen to improve their hearing in later life. In this following article, we are going to discuss the measures that you can take to detect if your baby is suffering. We’ll also briefly discuss the treatment options you can take to help your baby’s natural growth and give them a healthy life.
Causes of Hearing Loss in Children
Babies are the most vulnerable beings in the world. Any condition that is not optimum can bring significant problems to babies. Although it’s not so common, some infants can develop hearing problems from birth. The reasons that an infant can develop hearing loss at birth are,
- Alarmingly low birth weight
- Genetic or family history of hearing loss
On the other hand, it’s not so rare for a baby to develop a hearing problem after birth. The difficulties may be slow to come to the surface, and often they may not get a diagnosis till they are in preschool. The reasons behind the hearing problem include:
- Birth defects that damaged or changed the structure in the ear
- Fluid buildup behind the ear
- Earwax buildup
- Ruptured or injured eardrum
- Stucked object in the ear canal
- Scars in the eardrum due to infections
- Exposure to loud noise
- Exposure to a pressure difference
- Exposure to toxic chemicals or medications
- Infections passed from the mother in the womb
- Infections caused by chronic diseases like measles, meningitis
Additionally, babies can develop hearing loss due to defects in the auditory nerve. This is called central hearing loss. However, this is pretty rare in infants and children.
Hearing screening is a process to test if a person is suffering from a hearing problem. It is a painless process and requires a very short time to conduct. Hearing screening can be conducted even if a baby is fast asleep. Parents should get their babies under hearing screening within one month of their birth. If the baby doesn’t pass the hearing screening, the parents should get a full hearing check-up as soon as possible within the three months of the baby’s birth.
As for toddlers, if you suspect that it is having a hearing loss, schedule a hearing test at the earliest moment possible. A child may have the risk for acquired, progressive, or delayed-onset hearing loss. Therefore, it should have at least one hearing test by the age of two or two and a half. If it doesn’t pass the hearing screening, get a full hearing test for the wellbeing of its hearing health.
Signs of Hearing Loss in Children
Detecting hearing loss in a child may be exceptionally hard if it has a mild to moderate hearing loss. However, it may not be impossible. The person who stays with the child most of the time can easily pick up the signs. Some of the prominent signs are:
- Delayed speech or speaking in unclear words
- Not responding to loud noise or when called
- Talking pretty loudly
- Can ask to repeat repeatedly or answer incorrectly
- Turns up the tv volume way too high
- Not getting start by loud noises
- Not turning towards voice immediately
- Not say anything recognizable within 15 months
If any of those signs are present in an infant, child, or toddler, consult a doctor immediately and book an appointment for a hearing test.
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The earlier a child undergoes treatment, the more chance of recovery is ensured. Some hearing loss can easily be treated with medicine if detected early. Hearing problem due to infections, earwax, or fluid build-ups falls into this category. However, some hearing loss is more complicated and requires other solutions. If the structure of the ear is responsible for the hearing problems, the baby may need to go through an operation to bring it back to optimum shape.
Additionally, some hearing loss may be much complicated that would require a hearing aid or cochlear implant to help the baby’s hearing sounds. If a child has hearing loss, the earlier they get digital hearing aids or cochlear implants, the better it is for their language and cognitive development. These devices can be pretty helpful for the baby to have a healthy lifestyle. However, the parents are required to keep a close eye if the child is using the devices right. The child may find the devices irritating for the first few weeks. Make sure the devices are kept in place even if the baby removes them. If the devices are used correctly, the baby will eventually get used to them. It is often seen that, with proper use of hearing aid, many children regained or improved their hearing in later life.
The hearing problems in children can possess certain challenges not only in the life of the child but also for the parents. However, with early detection and proper care, a bulk of those challenges can be manageable. For the best life for your child, make the best choices and give them the life they deserve.