Hearing loss cases are on the rise, according to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). While some children are born with hearing loss, others may develop it later on. What does this mean for your child's hearing health? To start with, hearing evaluations are absolutely essential. Even though your little one may have passed their newborn hearing test with flying colors, that doesn't mean a problem can't develop later on. Keep in mind, identifying and diagnosing the hearing loss and reason behind it are the first steps in treating the child. A professional evaluation can also help to rule out some of the more serious issues that you might have concerns about. What are some of the causes of childhood hearing loss?
Your child isn't feeling well and they're not really responding to your verbal cues. What's going on? It's possible that what you're seeing is permanent hearing loss. It may be otitis media, or an ear infection. This is an inflammation of the middle ear. When it happens, fluid builds up – in different degrees. A mild infection may come with very few symptoms, while a more severe one may include a high fever, pain, and thicker fluid. The fluid can cause temporary hearing loss. If left untreated (or the child gets constant ear infections), complications can cause a more permanent situation. Luckily, otitis media is easily treatable. In some cases, it may go away on its own. If it doesn't, the pediatrician may prescribe antibiotics to clear up the infection.
Ear infections aren't the only cause of childhood hearing loss. Other illnesses and infections can lead to this type of problem. These include meningitis, measles, encephalitis, mumps, chicken pox, and influenza. The number of illnesses that have the potential to cause hearing loss is certainly a scary thought for any parent. But, there are vaccines that can prevent many of these diseases. For instance, the MMR vaccine reduces the risk of getting mumps or measles, the annual flu vaccine protects you from certain strains of influenza, and the meningococcal vaccine protects against meningitis.
Kids bump their heads constantly. Their developing motor abilities don't always keep them steady. Couple that with rough play and a daring nature, and you have a recipe for an accident. Most of the time, head injuries aren't any more serious than a minor bump. But, in some cases they can be more severe. Serious head trauma may lead to hearing loss. This in no way means that every little bump on the head causes a hearing problem. Hearing loss due to head injuries typically only happens after more severe trauma, such as a car accident or major fall. Only a medical professional can evaluate and diagnose this type of injury-related disorder.
Childhood hearing loss isn't always permanent. Even though it can be, getting an early hearing evaluation can help to rule out serious issues and possibly stop further complications. If your child isn't communicating, has a sudden speech problem or seems like they're not hearing you when you talk, ask the professional. Only a trained audiologist or medical professional can conduct an assessment or make a diagnosis.