Hearing Tests for Kids
Hearing loss is most common as we grow older, but it can still affect us at any stage of life, even childhood: Hearing loss affects children, too. Learn about testing hearing for children at Arnold Hearing Centres.
Hearing loss related to otitis media
Otitis media is the most common cause of hearing loss in children. It’s an inflammation of the middle ear, just behind the eardrum, usually connected with a build-up of fluid; in children, the Eustachian tube between the middle ear and the back of the throat is both smaller and less angled than it is in adults, which means it can be blocked more easily.
Sometimes the fluid is infected, but not always. Infected or not, it tends to cause “conductive” hearing loss—it prevents sound information from being conducted through the inner ear to the brain. In the case of infections, otitis media can be easier to detect, since an earache and fever are often involved.
How To Tell If Your Child is Affected
Here are some indicators:
Most often, hearing loss related to otitis media is temporary, but if a child experiences otitis media repeatedly, it’s possible that the eardrum, sound-transmitting bones, and even the hearing nerve can be damaged, causing permanent hearing loss.
If your child develops an ear infection, get to the doctor right away.
While the sense of hearing becomes active in most people by around 16 weeks in the womb, there are people who are born with hearing difficulties. Hearing loss that is present at birth is called “congenital” hearing loss.
More than 50% of congenital hearing loss cases are believed to be caused by hereditary genetic issues. Other causes include, but aren’t limited to, prenatal infections, illnesses and toxins consumed by the mother during pregnancy. Other conditions that can result in congenital hearing loss include, an infection within the womb, prematurity, maternal diabetes, toxemia during pregnancy and lack of oxygen (anoxia).
Acquired hearing loss is simply hearing loss that occurs after birth, so it isn’t child-specific. Several factors put children at risk: ear infections, ototoxic drugs known to affect hearing, meningitis, measles, encephalitis, chicken pox, influenza, mumps, head injury, and noise exposure.
Noise exposure deserves special mention among the causes of childhood hearing loss. Once upon a time, hearing professionals worried about loud music on phonographs or tape decks. With the advent of earbuds, video games and an endless stream of media via smartphones, we’re concerned about excessive volume being pumped directly into children’s ears. Please, monitor your children’s use of earbuds.