Categories of Hearing Loss
As with adults, hearing loss in children is measured in degrees. The loss can range from mild, one that causes difficulty hearing hushed tones such as a whisper to moderately severe, where the child can still hear loud speech, to a total loss resulting in deafness.
Hearing loss in children typically falls into two main categories. The most common, a conductive hearing loss, is associated with conditions in the external or middle ear that block the transmission of sound. These conditions can include ear infection, fluid in the ear, impacted earwax, a perforated eardrum, a foreign object in the canal or birth defects that alter the canal. Many of these conditions are treatable through minor procedures or surgery.
Sensorineural loss, also known as “nerve deafness”, is the second type. This occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or nerve pathways from the inner to the brain. Most often, this type of loss is caused by congenital. It can also be caused by the use of ototoxic drugs (antibiotics), premature birth with a very low birth weight and some of the resulting treatments or a number of other medical conditions. Although there is no cure for this type of hearing loss, in most cases children can often be helped with hearing aids.
Signs to look for possible hearing issues in children of different ages are:
Newborn / infant:
•Not startling at loud noises
•Not showing normal speech development
Toddler and older: