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Posted on Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Why Children Don't Hear

Kids running towards father after they hear him call.

Although hearing loss is on the rise among children and adolescents, a child who can't hear often goes unrecognized. That's because the symptoms of childhood hearing loss mimic normal childhood behaviors—like trouble paying attention or not responding when called upon. Becoming familiar with why children don't hear is one of the best ways to recognize, treat, and even help prevent childhood hearing loss.

Common Causes of Childhood Hearing Loss:

  • Otitis Media: Ear infection or otitis media can result in children not hearing in a range from mild to extreme hearing loss. The condition is due to the inflammation of the middle ear which is commonly associated with a buildup of fluid that is sometimes infected.
  • Ear Wax: Ear wax is normal in ears and in most cases does not need to be cleaned, but it can become impacted making it difficult for a child to hear. Impacted ear wax should be removed by a hearing health professional through irrigation, special instruments, or careful suction. This delicate process should never involve a cotton swab or ear candles—both of which can be dangerous.
  • Otosclerosis: Otosclerosis is an abnormal bone growth in the middle ear. Over time this bone growth can hinder a child's ability to hear. Otosclerosis is one of the top causes of middle ear hearing loss in younger people. Medication or vitamin D can slow this hearing loss down. If the condition becomes severe, it can be alleviated with surgery.
  • A Perforated Eardrum: A perforated eardrum is often the result of inserting something into the ear, a sporting injury, explosive noise, or head injury. It can be helped by surgical intervention, medication, and specialized care instructions from an audiologist or hearing health professional.
  • Noise: The most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss is exposure to loud noise. Loud noise causes hearing loss in children by destroying the delicate hair cells within the inner ear. Becoming familiar with the dangerous decibels for noise can help parents understand what sounds are too loud. Note: Toys are not regulated for sound, and some sounds can be delivered at dangerous decibel levels.
  • Congenital: Hearing loss is the most common anomaly at birth. In the past, children born with hearing loss were often not diagnosed before two years of age. Recently, hospitals have begun to implement hearing screening programs for all newborns.
  • Ototoxicity: Also referred to as ear poisoning causes damage to the inner, outer, or middle ear. It is the result of taking certain medications or from exposure to dangerous chemicals--like those found in chemotherapy.
  • In order to help your child keep their hearing fitness stay vigilant and don’t be afraid to ask questions about side-effects for treatments and medications. If your hospital doesn’t routinely check newborns for hearing loss, most do, make sure to ask to have him or her tested before you leave. If you have older children, who play sports and listen to music, make sure to get them a protective listening device. Always have your child wear a helmet, and take your child to see an audiologist or hearing health provider annually.

    If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

    OTHER RESOURCES:

    Research Hearing Health Here
    American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
    Detecting Hearing Loss in Children
    Kid's Health/Hearing Evaluations
    CDC-Hearing Loss

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