Hearing loss impacts people of all ages. For every thousand babies born, 2 to 3 will be deaf or have some level of hearing impairment according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As childhood progresses, hearing loss may arise from physical injury, disease, loud noises, or physical irregularities in the structure of the ear. Early childhood hearing screenings can reveal whether your child has hearing loss. The sooner the impairment is identified, the more likely the child will follow a normal developmental track.
Luckily, the most common signs of hearing loss in children are well documented for parents and caregivers to look for. In babies, the key thing to look for is how the infant reacts – or doesn’t react – to sounds. Observe whether the child is startled by loud noises and turns toward the source of the sound. Also look for failure to turn the head when you call her name or reacting to some sounds and not others.
Signs of otitis media include rubbing or pulling at their ears, having fevers or earaches, becoming inattentive or listless, failing to understand instructions, and asking for the TV to be turned up louder. Other warning signs are if your child uses the words “huh?” or “what?” many times a day, has difficulty locating the source of sounds, or watches people’s faces carefully as they are speaking. Hearing loss is a serious concern. Even mild hearing loss can lead to delays in language and speech development and manifest in poor school performance.
These problems are why many states have programs that guarantee early hearing testing in children. The tests are painless, and can be performed even on babies. There is no such thing as “too soon” when it comes to testing your children’s hearing. The sooner any conditions are found, the sooner they can be treated. If your child has never had a hearing test, or you have observed any of the warning signs listed above, give us a call to schedule a hearing test.