Hearing loss in children can occur at any time, and it may not be evident – to you or your child -immediately. Though severe or profound hearing loss may be more easily detected, noticing milder forms of hearing loss can be more difficult. That is why regular hearing evaluations as children grow and mature is so important. If something doesn’t seem right, ask your family doctor.
Congenital hearing loss at birth is usually caused by genetic factors or by other issues, such as an infection during pregnancy, premature birth, injury at birth, and other health conditions.
Acquired hearing loss after birth can result from many factors, including frequent ear infections, viral and bacterial infections like meningitis or the measles, a head injury, and continuous or excessive exposure to loud noises.
Signs of hearing loss to watch for in a child
Consider taking your child to see your Family Doctor if you, a family member, care giver or teacher notice that your child:
- struggles to hear things and is unable to figure out where a sound is coming from;
- makes frequent use of what? or huh?;
- is slow to learn to talk, or they are not clear when they speak or their ability to speak and use language as compared to others of the same age is somewhat delayed or hampered;
- often asks you to repeat yourself or responds inappropriately to a question;
- does not reply when you call them and is not startled by sudden, loud noises;
- often talks very loudly;
- intently watches the faces of speakers and watches other people to copy actions;
- has difficulty with paying attention and behaving at home, day care or school;
- has difficulty with academic performance;
- has inappropriate, delayed, or lack of response to soft and moderate-level sounds or spoken language when distractions are minimal;
- has difficulty understanding speech when there is background noise;
- sits close to the TV when the volume is loud enough for others or increases the volume on the TV, phone or other audio electronics to excessive loud levels.
Signs of hearing loss to watch for in an infant or toddler
You should consider seeing your Family Doctor if you notice that your baby or toddler:
- is not startled by loud noises;
- does not turn towards the source of a sound while under four months old;
- does not say single words by the time they’re one year old;
- notices you when they see you, but not when you call their name, and;
- hears some sounds but not others.