Hearing problems, and hearing loss in children, including infants, can affect and delay a child’s speech and language, literacy and other key educational factors, critically affecting their development and future. Pediatric hearing problems can be caused by a number of factors but two of the most common causes are conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss.
Conductive Hearing Loss
The most common hearing problem in children is a middle ear infection. When a child has a middle ear infection, fluid builds up in the middle ear space where the three hearing bones are located (called ossicles.) The fluid prevents the bones and the eardrum from moving, and therefore creates a hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is called CONDUCTIVE hearing loss. Sometimes this type of problem can go unnoticed as middle ear fluid may not be painful and a child may just seem like he or she is not paying attention. Left untreated, middle ear infection can result in a hole (perforation) in the eardrum. Persistent conductive hearing loss in young children can also cause delayed speech and language because they cannot accurately hear speech sounds around them. Middle ear infection is treated with a variety of interventions from medication to surgery depending on how often and how severe the infections are.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
On occasion, a child is identified with Sensorineural hearing loss. This is a loss of function of the nerves in the hearing organ (cochlea). This is a permanent hearing loss and can get worse over time. Parents often ask what caused their child’s sensorineural hearing loss and unfortunately, we aren’t always able to tell. If a child is identified with this type of hearing loss we often do a series of tests looking at other systems in the body to make sure the child’s overall health is intact and do repeated hearing tests to see if the hearing is changing. When required, we are equipped to fit children school age and older with hearing aids and can also recommend other professionals who can help families with children whose hearing is too poor for hearing aids, or who are too young for our services. Early intervention agencies in Connecticut and New York may be able to assist families with our youngest hearing loss patients.
Diagnosis of Hearing Loss in Children
In addition to the traditional “beep” hearing test, Advanced Audiology and Hearing Aid Services also has testing for Auditory Processing Disorder. This is a type of testing that looks beyond “beep” tests. Auditory Processing testing looks at how a child hears with background noise, how they are able to fill in the blanks when they miss part of a word or phrase, and how they are able to add what they hear on one side and on the other. This is a highly specialized hearing test and our audiologists work with families to ensure all the correct pre-evaluation information has been gathered for the best picture of a child’s auditory processing ability. If a child is identified with auditory processing disorder, educational modifications, listening devices and listening therapy may be recommended.
Because of the significant impact that hearing loss poses for a child’s development, the most important factor in identifying any pediatric hearing problem is TIME. We encourage parents with any concern about their child’s hearing to seek an evaluation with a trained Audiologist and Ear Nose and Throat physician.
Our trained physicians and audiologists have the knowledge and experience to properly diagnose and treat your child’s hearing problem. We offer Audiology, Hearing Aid and ENT appointments for children and adults in Danbury, New Milford, Norwalk, Ridgefield and Southbury, CT.