Hearing Loss Facts and Resources

hearing loss

Hearing Loss in Children

Babies usually learn language effortlessly, when parents talk both to them and to those around them. During the first year of life, children develop listening skills and use them as a basis for babble. Their first words typically emerging at 12–15 months.

For a child with any degree of hearing loss, their development of communication skills can be affected. When words are only partially heard or not heard at all, language and communication skills will be slow or may not develop. This can lead to a child needing Early Intervention services to try and catch them up with their speech.

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For a school-aged child who has difficulty hearing may quickly lose interest in the lessons being given. They may not want to attend school at all, as they are not only unable to hear the teacher but cannot hear other children speaking in class or in the play area. Hearing loss can severely affect attention span, the acquisition of language, and reading and writing skills.

Risks from Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can negatively affect a child’s psychosocial development. They will not understand comments or requests and may get into trouble with parents or teachers because of this. Communication is vital to social interactions and healthy peer relationships.  Understanding other children can be difficult, causing them to be left out of games.  In addition, they may be bullied because they are perceived as different. The long-term impact of hearing loss can result in introverted and disruptive behavior, poor attendance at school, decreased social interaction, and low self-esteem.

Children with hearing loss often have to work extra hard at school to hear what is happening in the classroom. This can make them tired and distracted. Quite often hearing loss, whether mild or severe, has a profoundly negative effect on academic performance and mistakenly thought to have a learning disability, such as ADHD.

How Does the Ear Work

When we hear, sound gets caught by the outside part of the ear and moves down the ear canal to the eardrum. The sound makes the eardrum vibrate as well as the small bones in the middle ear vibrate. The small bones vibrating send the auditory message to the inner ear and then to the brain via a nerve. The brain then helps the child work out the meaning of the sounds heard.

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Hearing Loss Facts

According to the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC), 1.3 out of 1000 8-year-olds have bilateral hearing loss (loss of hearing in both ears) of 40 decibels (dB) or more. And, 14.9 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 19 have hearing loss of at least 16 dB in one or both ears. Even unilateral hearing loss (hearing loss in only one ear) has a tremendous impact on school performance; research shows anywhere from 25 to 35 percent of children with unilateral hearing loss are at risk of failing at least one grade level.

Resources for Hearing Loss

Many schools provide hearing screening as part of required student health assessments. Hearing screening, especially at an early age, provides the opportunity to detect a student’s hearing loss or previously unrecognized hearing loss and intervene to limit further loss and improve learning.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), hearing screening should be conducted

  • School entry for all children
  • At ages 6, 8, and 10, at least once
  • During middle school, at least once
  • At least once during high school
  • For any student entering a new school system without evidence of a previous hearing screening

Hearing screening might be required more often for students with other known health or learning needs; speech, language, or developmental delays; or a family history of early hearing loss.

Treatment for Hearing Loss

Early treatment of ear diseases could prevent a condition which is causing temporary hearing loss from becoming a more permanent one with worse consequences for the child concerned. One such treatable cause is wax, also known as cerumen. Everyone has earwax. Earwax is normal and healthy. But, cerumen impaction is one of the most common causes of hearing loss.  This is often caused by attempts to clean the ear with cotton swabs. Most cleaning attempts with cotton swabs push the wax deeper into the ear canal, which can cause a blockage.  Plus, running the risk of injury to the eardrum causing accidental puncture of the eardrum or trauma to the ear canal. There are no proven ways to prevent cerumen impaction, but not inserting cotton-tipped swabs in the ear canal is strongly advised.

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The Clear Ear OTO-TIP was developed out of Stanford University. Their patented spiral spin technology provides a way to do daily ear cleaning that is safe, effective and easy to use.  Plus, it doesn’t have the risk of injury to the canal or eardrum with their technology that avoids it from going too deep. With sizes for kids and adults, it’s a great product that can be used daily and help prevent hearing loss with those patients that suffer from cerumen impaction.

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