FAQ – Hearing Loss

What causes hearing loss in children?

There are various causes for hearing loss in children, which may occur before birth, during infancy or in childhood. Essentially, they are divided into conductive (medically treatable conditions) and sensorineural (conditions treatable with modern technology) hearing loss.

With conductive hearing loss, the inner ear functions normally, but something affects the outer or middle ear, hindering sound from reaching the inner ear. Conductive hearing losses are mild-to-moderate in degree, and are usually temporary and treatable. Common causes include earwax, foreign objects, swimmer’s ear and middle ear infection.

Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by dysfunction of the cochlea (sensory) or auditory pathways to the brain (neural) and is often present from birth. It can also develop as a result of noise exposure, age or exposure to ototoxic medication. Sensorineural hearing losses can range from mild to profound, and may affect all or only certain frequency ranges. For example, high-frequency sounds may not be detected while low-pitched sounds are heard normally.

Sensorineural hearing loss is permanent and cannot be treated with medicines or surgery. In most cases people with this type of hearing loss can be helped by hearing aids or in some cases, by cochlear implants.

What should I do if I think my child has a hearing loss?

If you think your child may have a hearing loss, visit an audiologist for an assessment, which will determine whether a hearing impairment exists, and to what degree. No child is too young to receive a hearing test – today’s technology even allows for newborn hearing tests. Click here for an Ear Institute near you.

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