Detecting hearing loss early in your child’s life is imperative to stopping further hearing loss, as well as to prevent your child from speech and language development problems. Hearing loss can be in one ear or both, ranging from mild to severe/profound.
A lot of children who have hearing problems are born to parents who have normal hearing.
Whether you find out your child has hearing problems at birth or later in life, it is important to get the right help as early as you can. Below are five common signs that your child may be experiencing hearing loss. Along with these five signs, we have given an example of hearing loss symptoms in children.
1. Not Responding to Loud Noises or Your Voice
This relates mostly to infants. If there is a loud noise, a newborn will most likely startle and potentially even cry. If your baby does not have a similar reaction, it could be a sign of hearing loss that you should get checked out.
Along with this, an infant will recognise their parent’s voice. If they are not giving small responses to the sound of your voice, then you should definitely get their hearing checked. Both of these examples give excellent evidence of child hearing problems.
2. Sitting Close to, or Turning up the TV
Once you have introduced television to your child, you may see that they either need the volume turned up louder to listen or, they may sit closer to the TV so they can hear it better.
If you notice that your child is sitting closer to the television, and you’re already on set to have their hearing checked, you may want to get their eyesight checked since this also may be the cause for them sitting closer.
If your child is requesting the volume be turned up, or is turning it up on their own, even if they are sitting closer to the television, you should get their hearing checked. Especially if everyone in the room is not having trouble hearing the television at the lowered volume.
3. Watching the Person Speaking Closely
We have seen this in many hearing-impaired children; they will watch someone speaking very closely, this is so that they can read the lips of the person speaking.
Seeing your child do this will give you a clue that you should have them checked for hearing loss. They could potentially have severe or mild hearing loss. If they need to be facing the person who is talking and looking at their lips as they speak, this can be an sign of hearing loss.
4. Watching Others to Imitate Their Actions
We see this in younger children the most, they will watch what other people are doing and follow their actions. This happens mostly in a classroom setting. So if you have concerns about your child’s hearing, let the teacher know so he or she can keep an eye out for this.
The teacher, or anyone else in the classroom, may notice that your child did not hear the instructions or understand what they are supposed to do. This may result in your child asking someone close to them what they are supposed to be doing or, they may be looking around to see what others are doing and following them.
5. Doesn’t Respond When Spoken to or Misunderstands What’s being Said
A fifth common sign of hearing loss in your child comes two-fold.
You may realise that your child doesn’t give you a response when they are spoken to — mostly if their back is turned. In this case, if you are having to repeat yourself and they are still not answering, it may be time for a hearing test.
On the other hand, if you have a child who frequently misunderstands what is said to them, this may also be a sign of hearing loss as well. Noticing that your child either just nods with a question and smiles, or giving the wrong answer to a simple question, it may be time to have their hearing tested.
Hearing Loss Types
There are four main types of hearing loss that you should familiarise yourself with if you think that your child is having a hearing problem.
This type of hearing loss is caused by a blockage in the ear, this is usually temporary and is treated with medicine. The most common cause of conductive hearing loss is an ear infection.
Sensorineural hearing loss comes in degrees from mild, which is not being able to hear certain sounds, to profound, which is not being able to hear any sounds. This hearing loss happens when the inner ear is damaged or has structural problems.
Inner ear hearing loss usually involves a specific part of the inner ear such as the inner or outer hair cells, or both. Inner ear hair cells that are damaged can sometimes lead to tinnitus in children, this is when they can hear a ringing or buzz almost constantly.
Sensorineural hearing loss is usually present at birth, either inherited or stemming from other medical problems. Most sensorineural hearing losses are permanent.
Due to hearing loss affecting the inner ear, this can cause balance problems as well in children. If you notice that your child has trouble balancing (once they have learned how to walk) you should look into their hearing as well as other related inner ear problems.
Mixed hearing loss is when a child with hearing problems has both conductive hearing loss as well as sensorineural hearing loss.
This is better described as a communication difficulty rather hearing loss and can be more difficult to treat. It does not necessarily have to do with the inner ear, but more-so with other parts of the brain that are not working properly.
Auditory Processing Disorder
Auditory processing disorder, also known as APD, is when a child can not process what they have heard correctly. This happens because their ears and brain do not fully coordinate with one another.
With APD, as well as other hearing loss issues, early diagnosis and hasty treatment are important. There is no ‘cure’ as such for APD. But speech-language therapy is extremely helpful for children with APD, as well as using assistive listening devices.
Hearing Loss in Children: Final Thoughts
Hearing loss is something that can affect anyone at any age, when you notice hearing loss in a child, it is significantly more important to have it diagnosed sooner rather than later.
After reading this article, we hope that you can identify if your child needs a hearing test. Even if you do not see the above five signs of hearing loss in your child, getting their hearing checked is always good practice.
Consult with us today so that your child can have a better tomorrow.