Hearing Loss in Children

Identifying and treating hearing loss early reduces its impact on your child’s development, giving them the opportunity to live up to their full potential socially, emotionally, and cognitively.


Categories of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss in children is measured in degrees, ranging from mild to moderately severe to profound deafness, and typically falls into three main categories.

  • Conductive hearing loss is the most common. It’s when sound is physically blocked in the external or middle ear. Causes could include an ear infection, fluid in the ear, impacted earwax, a perforated eardrum, or birth defects that alter the canal. Many of these are treatable through minor procedures or surgery.
  • Sensorineural loss is the second type. It results from damage to the inner ear or hearing nerve. Most often, it is congenital, but other causes include the use of certain medications during pregnancy, a low birth weight, or treatments for certain other medical conditions. There is no cure for this type of hearing loss, but the use of hearing aids is an effective treatment.
  • Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Similarly, treatment options are a combination of therapies, depending on the nature and severity of the hearing loss.


Symptoms of Pediatric Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be difficult enough for adults to detect, let alone children, who aren’t always able to articulate the source of their difficulties in life. There are a number of signs to look for if you’re concerned that your child may be suffering from a hearing loss.


If your child has difficulty with communication skills, it may be a sign of hearing impairment. When your child begins day care or preschool, any troubles will become more prominent. Look for these signs of hearing loss:


Difficulty Hearing/Understanding:

  • Unable to point to different body parts when asked
  • Doesn’t enjoy being read to
  • Doesn’t understand action words like “run” or “sit”
  • Sits close to the television


Difficulty with Speech Development:

  • Unable to form simple sentences
  • Doesn’t ask “why?” or “what?” questions
  • Can’t answer “why?” or “what?” questions
  • Doesn’t use plurals or verbs

Toddler hearing loss

Young Adults

It’s essential to encourage hearing protection in this age group, because hearing plays a critical role in their school success, social life, and career. This age group is at a greater risk for noise-induced hearing loss via live music, listening through headphones with the volume turned too high, sporting events, and hunting.


Look for these signs of hearing loss:

  • Turning up the television to an excessive volume
  • Saying “what?” frequently
  • Only responding when eye contact is made
  • Complaining of ringing in the ears or a dip in hearing ability
  • Withdrawing socially

Young adult hearing loss

Is your child showing signs of hearing loss? Please contact us today!

Frequently Asked Questions

How are earbud headphones harming my child’s (or my) hearing?
Earbuds allow us to listen to music anywhere, anytime, and for long periods of time. This is the perfect storm for hearing loss, as the decibel level (the sound pressure) and the length of listening time affect how much damage is done. Loud music destroys the fine hairs that stimulate auditory nerve fibers, which send signals to the brain to interpret sound. Sound becomes damaging at 85 decibels (the sound level of a bulldozer idling). Listen to your MP3 player at about 70% to avoid damage. Or try the 60/60 rule: Listen to your device at 60% volume for 60 minutes at a time.
How early can a child be diagnosed with hearing loss?
Most children receive their first hearing screening shortly after birth. All states have implemented newborn hearing screenings into hospitals and birthing clinics, and most screenings happen before the parent and child are discharged. If the child does not pass the test twice, they are referred to an audiologist for further testing.
How often should children have their hearing tested?
Your baby should have a basic newborn hearing screening performed before being discharged from the hospital. If your infant has not had this yet, it is important to have your child’s hearing evaluated, preferably within the first three weeks of life. Kids who seem to have normal hearing should continue to have their hearing evaluated at regular checkups. Typically, hearing tests are scheduled at ages 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, and 18.
What should I do if I think my child has a hearing loss?
The sooner the issue is addressed, the better the chances of successful treatment. If you believe your child has a hearing loss, please contact us for an appointment. Our practice provides family-centered treatment that focuses on thorough hearing testing, diagnosis, and follow-up appointments if necessary.
What types of hearing loss are found in children?
While the types of hearing loss in children are the same as in adults (conductive, sensorineural, and mixed), there are differences in what they are more susceptible to. For example, teens are at a greater risk for high-frequency hearing loss because of their lifestyle choices (loud concerts, music volume), while younger children may experience conductive hearing loss caused by otitis media or an ear infection. This is usually because the eustachian tube — the passage between the middle ear and the back of the throat — isn’t able to drain because of its shorter passage and horizontal setting.

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