Signs and symptoms
Every child develops at his or her unique pace, but there are a number of common milestones that parents watch for. Indicators of pediatric hearing loss are often linked to expected behaviors that are missing.
Responses to sound
Most babies will startle at loud noises. Even at the earliest age, babies will turn their heads toward a sound, such as a parent’s voice. If your child doesn’t respond to your voice or the sound of clapping your hands, it could indicate that your child has a hearing loss.
Speech is related to our ability to hear. If your infant isn’t cooing and gurgling like other babies of a similar age, you should have your child’s hearing tested.
Parents are often alert to recording a child’s first word. Although the range of what’s normal for this milestone is broad, even when toddlers aren’t speaking, they can understand and follow simple requests. If your child doesn’t respond, it could be a sign of pediatric hearing loss.
Not all pediatric hearing loss is congenital. If your child is subject to frequent earaches, hearing loss can result if untreated.
Diagnosis and treatment
It’s never too early to have an infant’s hearing evaluated if you suspect hearing loss. Early diagnosis and intervention can lead to better outcomes. Ignoring the signs or hoping they’ll go away won’t help your child. Depending on how profound your child’s hearing loss is, there are different treatments to address the issue.
Hearing tests can be tailored to the age and development of each child and could include Soundfield testing, VRA (Visual reinforcement audiometry), Conditioned Play, ABR (Auditory Brainstem Response) testing, or Conventional Behavioral testing. Dr. Colby’s office is equipped to test a child at any age and stage of development, including sedated hearing testing when required.
There are models designed especially for infants and children.
When hearing aids are not sufficient to restore hearing, cochlear implants are an alternative.
Because speech is linked to hearing, your child can benefit from speech therapy by improving her or his ability to produce sounds more accurately.
Early intervention offers the best prognosis for a child with pediatric hearing loss. Don’t delay seeing your ENT if you suspect there is a problem.