Identifying Hearing Loss in Children


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How to Identify and Cope with Hearing Loss in Your Child

Hearing loss, considered to be one very prevalent birth defect in infants, affects approximately 4 in every 1,000 American newborns.

According to a recent research, about 7 million American children undergo some type and level of hearing loss, 15 percent of which experience “aural impairment” in just one or even both ears.

Hearing loss may have a huge effect on your child’s life. Because communication and language rapidly develop during your child’s first three years, an unrecognized hearing loss will interfere with your child’s language, communication and speech.

Furthermore, your child’s hearing loss can cause learning problems and consequently affect your child’s school performance.

The objective of early detection, screening, diagnosis and ultimately treatment of hearing loss, is to aid children in cultivating academic skills and language equal to your child’s normal hearing peers.

Cause of hearing loss

Hearing loss may be inherited or caused by injury or illness. And in a few cases, cause is not unknown; nearly 3 in every 1 thousand American children are born with hearing difficulty or deafness. Note that 9 in every 10 American children that are born with hearing difficulties or deafness in fact have parents who have no problems in hearing.

Genetic factors are also established to cause nearly 50% of congenital (inborn) hearing loss cases. Approximately 25 genes playing a part in a child’s hearing loss are already identified.

Illnesses during pregnancy like cytomegalovirus, rubella, syphilis, toxoplasmosis or herpes also may cause hearing loss.

Hearing loss signs

Identifying hearing loss especially in children and infants necessitates meticulous observation, systematic medical examination as well as audiological testing.

• You need to raise your voice consistently in order to get your child's attention.

• Your child frequently asks "huh?" or "what?" when you are talking to him.

• Your child’s response to sounds is inconsistent, at times hearing it while other times may not.

• Your child had suffered some sort of ear infection.

• Your child complains that his ears are painful.

• Your watches T.V. with very high volume level.

• Your child's speech very poor compared to other his age.

• Your child seldom uses verbal language.

• Your child asks frequently that you repeat what you have said.

Undergoing tests

When you notice a hearing problem, have your child undergo a “hearing test” and other hearing evaluations.

Behavioral testing

Behavioral hearing assessments are employed with children that can already respond well to sounds through head turning their or through playing some sort of a game.

Behavioral tests offer 3 main parts of information:

• Measure the amount or degree of a child’s hearing loss.

• locate the problem

• provide data about how hearing loss can impact your child's ability to communicate.

“Auditory Brainstem Response” Testing

When behavioral testing does not provide accurate results in some children and infants, an “Auditory Brainstem Response Test” or ABR is recommended.

ABR provides useful information regarding the amount and type of “hearing loss”, its effect on the child’s communication skills as well as the hearing nerve’s functioning.

Otoacoustic Emissions

This measures “otoacoustic emissions-sound” generally sent out by the child’s inner ear.

Some kind of tiny microphone is usually placed into the “ear canal” then the sounds therein are analyzed through a computer.

Medical evaluations

1. Otolaryngology. Here, an otolaryngologist finalizes the medical evaluation of your child’s hearing system then obtains a complete medical history.

If there is a problem, the otolaryngologist is able to establish if surgical or medical treatment can make it better.

2. Medical genetics. Its main purpose is to, if possible, establish the hearing loss cause.

This evaluation includes your family’s medical history, physical examination, review and evaluation of birth records as well as hearing tests.

3. Ophthalmology. Because in some cases children can have visual difficulties other than hearing loss, an investigation by your ophthalmologist may be recommended.

This is done because often, children suffering from hearing loss depend more on “visual” cues compared to children of normal hearing.

It is a fact that hearing loss or difficulty can greatly slow down or delay your child’s development. When your child cannot clearly hear, this limits his capability to learn and communicate well.

However, an important note to keep in mind is that if hearing loss or difficulty is recognized as early as possible, most children progress with normal intellect and lead productive lives. As a parent, never ignore the signs; never wait until it’s too late.

What are Ear & hearing loss problems ?
Your ear is divided into three major components: the inner ear, the middle ear, and the outer ear. The outer ear is what is physically seen in our bodies. The ear canal is the path where the sound waves pass through.

It is also seen from the outside. The ear canal acts like a funnel catching the sound waves and lead them to the eardrum.

The middle ear is where the eardrum is located. It is actually a small space inside the ear filled with air. In the middle ear, there are three tiny bones. Collectively, they are called the ossicles.

Individually, there are the hammer, the anvil, and the stirrup. From the outer ear, sound is directed to the eardrum. Now on the eardrum, these bones move in tune with the sound that passes on the vibration toward a much smaller part of the ear, the cochlea.

The cochlea is already part of the inner ear. It has fluid in it, which, in turn, moves the hairs on the outside of the cells. Several of these hair cells create an electrical impulse that is send with the auditory nerve directly to the brain.
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