Children can be born with hearing problems or develop them later on.
In newborns, genetic defects Genes and Chromosomes Your genes are the chemical codes that control everything about how your body works, how it's made, and what it looks like. People have over 20,000 different genes. Every cell in your body has... read more are the most common cause of hearing problems
In children with previous good hearing, the most common causes are ear infections Acute Middle Ear Infection in Children The middle ear is the space just behind the eardrum. Germs can get in the middle ear and cause an infection. A middle ear infection is also called otitis media. An acute middle ear infection... read more and wax build-up
Infants with hearing loss don't respond to sounds
Older children may have trouble learning to talk
Doctors routinely check the hearing of newborns
Doctors treat the cause of hearing loss
If the cause of hearing loss can't be treated, your child may need a hearing aid or surgery for a cochlear implant
What causes hearing loss in children?
The common causes of hearing loss depend on the child's age.
In newborns, the most common cause is:
A genetic defect (passed to the child from the parents)
In babies and children, the most common causes are:
A build up of earwax
In older children, other causes include:
A head injury
Objects stuck in the ear
What are the symptoms of hearing loss in children?
Symptoms of very bad hearing loss
Not responding to sounds
Having trouble talking clearly or starting to talk later than expected
Symptoms of mild to moderate hearing loss
Appearing to ignore people who are talking to them
Talking and hearing well at home but not when outside or in school, due to the background noise in public places
How can doctors tell if my child has hearing loss?
A newborn baby's hearing is tested in the hospital before going home.
Doctors use a handheld device that bounces sound waves off the baby's eardrums
If that device suggests a hearing problem, doctors do more complicated tests that:
Monitor the baby's brainwaves while playing sounds in each ear
For older children who can answer questions, doctors can do standard hearing tests Testing Worldwide, about half a billion people (almost 8% of the world's population) have hearing loss. More than 10% of people in the United States have some degree of hearing loss that affects their... read more .
If the tests show a hearing problem, doctors do additional tests to figure out what’s causing the hearing loss. They also check how well your child's language skills are developing.
How do doctors treat hearing loss in children?
Doctors will treat the cause of the hearing loss, if possible. For example, your child's doctor may:
Give medicine to treat an infection
If the cause of your child’s hearing loss can't be fixed, doctors may suggest:
A hearing aid
Special training in language and communication, including learning sign language
A cochlear implant
Hearing aids are available even for babies and young children.
A cochlear implant is a device that uses electrical signals to help with hearing. It is implanted surgically.