For children to learn speech and language skills as they develop, the ability to hear is crucial. And we know that the sooner we treat children for hearing loss, the better.
Research has shown that if a baby is treated for hearing loss before six months of age, her outcome is much better than if she was treated later. Although hospitals routinely screen babies for hearing loss within 24 to 48 hours after birth, nearly two out 1,000 newborns have it. And the numbers increase as children grow: five out of 1,000 older children have hearing loss.
Children, like adults, can have hearing loss that is congenital (present at birth) or acquired (happening after birth). Just like grown-ups, kids can also have hearing losses that are conductive, sensorineural, or mixed. But hearing loss affects children somewhat differently, and they can end up with developmental and emotional problems.
So, what should you do if you suspect that your child has a hearing loss? Knowing what symptoms to look for is your first step. Then, you’ll need to learn where to go for help and to find out what treatments are available.
Common Symptoms to Look for
Even though your child may have passed his or her hearing screening as a newborn, hearing loss can happen at any time. Symptoms that indicate that they may be experiencing hearing loss include:
- Delayed speech and language development
- When a loud sound is made, they don’t startle
- They can’t tell where a sound comes from
- Poor performance in school
- Behavioral problems in school
- A learning disability diagnosis.
You can learn more from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) list of speech and hearing milestones. It provides age-specific information about these symptoms.
Where to Seek Help
It’s a worry if your daughter or son is showing symptoms of hearing loss. But it’s also so important to have an audiologist check them out right away. At Big Thicket Hearing Hearing Aids & Audiology, we offer compassionate and knowledgeable care for kids experiencing hearing loss.
We will perform in-depth testing to find out what the cause is behind your child’s hearing loss. These tests are noninvasive and painless. We’ll find out whether it’s temporary and treat it, as with an ear infection or wax build-up. If it’s permanent, we’ll talk with you about possible treatment options.
Available Treatment Options for Your Child’s Hearing Loss
We will recommend an option to help your child hear better, depending on the diagnosis. Treatment options include hearing aids, cochlear implants, bone-anchored hearing systems, speech therapy, and assistive listening devices.
A pediatric hearing aid is specially designed so that a young child can’t misplace or remove it. There’s a variety of these devices on the market, including high-powered ones that help kids with profound hearing loss. Some can be worn behind the ear, and others are worn directly in the ear canal.
Cochlear implants work a little differently than hearing aids. These surgically-implanted devices electrically stimulate the auditory nerve directly instead of amplifying sound. They are suitable for babies and young children who may not benefit from hearing aids.
Another surgically-implanted device that is an alternative to a pediatric hearing aid is a bone-anchored hearing system. Hearing loss is treated through bone conduction of sound vibrations in the inner ear. Children who have severe outer or middle ear defects or have lost all hearing in one ear may be good candidates for this device.
If hearing loss has affected a child’s speech development, he or she might benefit from speech-language therapy. This is especially helpful after a child has had cochlear implant surgery or after getting a hearing aid.
Assistive listening devices work in conjunction with a child’s hearing aid or cochlear implant using FM systems. They improve hearing in classrooms and other environments with a great deal of background noise.
At Big Thicket Hearing Aids & Audiology, we care about the hearing health of Hardin County’s kids. If you think that your child has hearing loss, don’t wait to get them checked out. Call us today so that we can help your child hear better!