According to WHO, the prevalence of childhood-onset deafness is 2% and most common causes include middle ear infections, viral infections, noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), trauma to the ear and also, hearing loss as a consequence of other conditions. Most often, hearing loss among children goes unnoticed. Hence, parents must be on guard to protect their child’s hearing and set guidelines, and educate them on the importance of hearing health.
Signs that your child is experiencing hearing loss:
Your child may be experiencing a hearing loss, but may not always be able to tell you that there is a problem. Here are a few things signs to understand whether your child may be experiencing listening difficulties.
Has not achieved auditory milestones – startle or eye blink response to loud sounds, head turn or searching for familiar sounds, has not started babbling, has not achieved the first word by the first birthday. These signs can often be seen in infants and toddlers.
Frequent ear infections and complaints of ear pain
Does not react to loud sounds
Cannot identify which direction the sound is coming from, prefers hearing from one side
Constantly increases the volume on devices
Does not understand simple instructions
Relies on lip reading
Poor academic performance
How can parents protect a child’s hearing?
With children having to attend classes online, the use of personal amplification among children has increased exponentially. Hence it is important to create an awareness among parents about hearing health. The American Speech and Hearing Association has recommended some guidelines to help parents protect their child’s hearing which include:
Volume-limiting, that is using personal amplification devices (headphones, speakers) at the half volume level, noise cancellation, and use of speakers, assistive listening technology, and encouraging regular hearing breaks. Apart from these, model safe hearing habits and educate children on the need for good hearing and aural hygiene.
Who to consult?
Identifying hearing loss may be a difficult in children. It is always better to seek advice from your doctor who will provide a course of action. If you observe signs of hearing loss, you can also consult your nearest audiologist and carry out a hearing assessment.