Though hearing loss isn’t all that common in children, it’s not impossible. As such, it’s important that, as a parent, you’re aware of some of the potential signs of hearing loss and that you also know when it’s time to visit an audiologist.
If your child was exposed to loud noises, has trouble hearing different pitches, or hears ongoing tones, you may want to consider a hearing test. Hearing care is critical, so here’s what you need to know about childhood hearing loss and the proper steps to take.
Signs of Hearing Loss
For babies, there are some telltale signs that they may need a hearing test. First, if a baby is exposed to loud background noise or noisy environment and they don’t react, it could be indicative of a hearing problem. Past six months of age, a baby may not have normal hearing if they don’t turn in response to a noise. It’s also important to note if a baby only responds to certain sounds and ignores others, this could indicate a certain type of hearing loss.
In school-age children, there are different ways to determine a person’s ability when it comes to hearing. Some children have difficulty discerning different volumes. Other times, their normal speech will sound delayed to the listener. The child may also frequently ask for clarification, something that older adults experiencing hearing loss also do.
Types of Hearing Loss
In children, there are some primary types of hearing loss that differ from those that often impact older adults. First, there is congenital hearing loss. This can occur as a result of an infection during pregnancy or complications at birth. The other type is acquired pediatric hearing loss which can be the result of untreated ear infections in the middle ear, eardrum perforation, loud, excessive noise, and other possible diseases. An audiologist will be better equipped to narrow down the cause of the hearing problem. There’s also conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss.
Testing Hearing Ability
There are several possible methods for hearing tests. Often, the first step is a behavioral test. These tests measure a child’s response to certain audio stimuli. In a way, it’s a noise test. An audiologist will play different tones, pitches, and decibels to determine a person’s ability to hear.
This frequently involves pure tones that release particular sound waves. These tones are sometimes acquired through the use of a tuning fork, though pure tone audiometry can rely on the use of a keyboard as well. Depending on the hearing test result, your audiologist will make different recommendations.
If a child is too young to properly respond to a behavioral hearing test, there are still options. These include an auditory brainstem response test, an auditory steady state response test, an acoustic reflex test, tympanometry, and the central auditory evoked potential test. These tests often use an audiometer, earphones, or headphones.
Typically, different pitches or sounds are passed through the left ear and right ear to track the brain’s response to the sounds. Many younger children can do the earphones or headphones tests while they’re sleeping. For some older children, however, sedation may be required to get accurate test results.
If your child is diagnosed with a form of hearing loss, there are steps to get them on the path to better hearing. From cochlear implants to hearing aids, it’s important that your child gets the qualified hearing care they need. Nowadays, some places even offer online hearing tests to streamline the process and track progress. If you suspect your child is experiencing hearing problems, it’s important to act quickly. It could make a major difference.