HOW CAN I TELL IF MY CHILD CAN HEAR NORMALLY?
Hearing loss can have different causes, and can vary in the degree to which it affects people. It can occur at any age – even very young children can be affected. In the first few months of life, it can be difficult to tell if your child is experiencing hearing loss, but there are key developmental milestones you can look out for. Sometimes, your child will be able to respond to the sounds they hear most often, such as their name, even if they cannot properly hear other sounds or words.
Children naturally develop at different rates, but it’s certainly worth booking a hearing assessment if you suspect that your child may have a hearing loss. If your child does not react to loud noises from birth, or respond to familiar voices or noisy toys at between 3 and 6 months old, it’s possible that there may be an issue with their hearing.
WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS IF MY CHILD HAS HEARING LOSS?
In this blog we’ll take a look at some of the more common types of childhood hearing loss, and the solutions that exist to manage them.
This could be due to conductive hearing loss, which results in sounds being muffled. Possible causes include a physical blockage, such as earwax or a build-up of fluid, or perhaps something that your child has inadvertently poked into their ear (it happens!). In these cases, the problem is usually temporary and easily fixed. Surgical intervention or hearing devices can help if the problem is to do with the small bones or the auditory nerve in the ear, referred to as sensorineural hearing loss.
Yes, hearing devices can make a real difference – especially if the small hairs in the inner ear have been damaged. These tiny hairs are vital to your hearing but if anything happens to them, it can be difficult to hear quieter sounds, or make sense of sounds in general.
MIXED HEARING LOSS
This is a combination of the first two kinds of hearing loss, and involves treating the causes of the conductive hearing loss and prescribing hearing devices for the sensorineural hearing loss.
Central auditory processing disorder is usually only noticed when your child starts attending nursery school, as they will battle to listen when there is background noise of find it difficult to decide which sounds are the most important, however they will present with normal hearing. Hearing care professionals are experts in helping children to develop skills and strategies to make sense of more challenging environments, such as the classroom.
Imagine if you could hear people talking, but it was so distorted that it was almost impossible to make any sense of what they were saying. That’s what it feels like to have central auditory processing disorder. The effects are particularly serious in noisy places, with the auditory nerve sending mixed signals to the parts of the brain that process sounds and words. This is caused by the auditory nerve failing to send messages to the auditory centres of the brain in the same way every time. Again, the treatment varies from child to child – different approaches may be recommended depending on their age, and the exact way in which they respond to sound.
Human hearing is an incredibly sensitive system, and allows us to enjoy the millions of sounds all around us. Perhaps it’s no wonder that things sometimes can go wrong – and you may notice this early in your child’s life. The good news is that, depending on the specific condition and the developmental stage that your child has reached, a number of excellent treatment options exist.