Based on statistics from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), out of every 1,000 children in the US, 2 to 3 are born deaf or with impaired hearing. Children may suffer hearing loss because of congenital factors, as the result of a middle ear infection known as otitis media, or it may be triggered by injury, loud noises, certain medications, and diseases such as chickenpox and measles. Whatever the cause, testing hearing early is key, because the sooner any hearing problems are detected, the better the child’s chances of attaining their full educational and developmental potential.
Fortunately, there are a number of indications of possible hearing loss that you, as a parent, can watch for.
In babies, such signs include the child failing to be startled by loud noises, turning his or her head when he sees you but not when you call his or her name, not turning toward the source of a sound after the age of 6 months, or seeming to hear some sounds, but not others.
Otitis media will often cause children to complain of ear pain, but other signs to look for are pulling at or rubbing the ears, failing to understand instructions or increasing the TV volume. Watch how your child interacts with others. Notice if they say “what?” or “huh?” frequently. Also note if they seem to watch the face of the speaker very carefully. Even mild hearing loss is serious, because as the children grow it can lead to delays in language and speech development, learning difficulties in school, and emotional or behavioral problems.
This is the reason that many states have instituted mandatory early hearing screenings, using tests that are completely painless, and that can be conducted even on babies. The sooner any issues are identified, the sooner they can be addressed. That’s why it is “never too soon to get a first hearing test”. 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.