If you’re like most people, you probably associate hearing loss with old age. But seniors aren’t the only ones to suffer from impaired hearing; in fact, only about one-third of patients are older than 65. In reality, hearing loss affects people of all ages – even children. Nearly 15 percent of kids in American Fork have hearing loss, and that number continues to grow.
Consequences of Childhood Hearing Loss
Children with hearing loss in American Fork don’t just face the everyday challenges of others with hearing loss; they are at risk for delays in speech and language development and have an increased likelihood of social and behavioral problems as they age. Because of these problems, it’s important to recognize the signs of hearing loss in children as soon as possible. These include:
- No reaction to loud noises
- Failure to respond to your voice
- Frequent ear infections
- Delays in speech and language ability/limited vocabulary for age
- Poor academic performance
- Disorders often related to hearing loss (e.g., autism, Down syndrome)
- Family history of hearing loss
But what causes hearing loss in American Fork children?
What Causes Children to Lose Their Hearing?
There are three main causes of hearing loss in children:
- Congenital factors. Roughly 1-2 out of every 1,000 children are born with hearing loss in American Fork. Congenital factors such as genetic issues, prenatal problems and premature birth can all cause hearing damage.
- Otitis media. Middle ear infections are very common in children and occur when fluid accumulates and cannot drain properly. Most ear infections clear up on their own or respond to treatment with antibiotics, but in severe cases they can cause hearing damage.
- Acquired hearing loss. Many factors can cause children to lose their hearing. Illness, physical trauma and medications can all cause permanent hearing loss. The biggest problem is excessive noise exposure. Fortunately, this can be prevented.
Preventing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Noise-induced hearing loss occurs when noise in excess of 85 decibels for an extended period of time causes permanent damage to the hair cells of the inner ear. Many activities contribute to this type of hearing loss including sporting events, concerts, firearms and noisy vehicles such as dirt bikes and jet skis. Kids who listen to music at loud levels through headphones are especially at risk.
In order to prevent your child from developing hearing loss, stress the importance of wearing earplugs anytime they will be participating in an activity where noise is likely to be a factor and teach them to listen to music safely. This means keeping the volume level at about 60 percent of maximum and taking frequent listening breaks to give their ears a rest. You might have to do a little policing yourself; a good rule of thumb is, if you can hear the music when they’re using headphones, they need to turn down the volume!
Your American Fork audiologist can provide you with additional tips on preventing your kids from developing hearing loss.