Hearing loss is difficult enough to detect in adults, it can be even more difficult in children which is why public schools often conduct routine hearing tests on young children. Hearing loss in kids can negatively impact a child’s development physically, academically, emotionally, and socially. 

There are a number of signs that may indicate your child is suffering from hearing loss.

Hearing Loss in Infants

A child’s communication skills begin developing as soon as they are born. Any defect in hearing will slow development. It is important to identify any degree of hearing loss in infants so the impact on development is minimal to none.

Signs of hearing loss in infants include:

  • Lack of a startle reflex to loud noises
  • Eyes and head do not move in direction of sound

Signs hearing loss is affecting speech development:

  • Minimal to no babbling
  • No vocalization of excitement or displeasure
  • Not speaking any recognizable words by seven months to a year old

Hearing Loss in Toddlers

Trouble hearing or communicating often becomes more obvious when children start to interact with others and daycare or preschool can often bring these issues to light. 

Signs of hearing loss in toddlers include:

  • Lack of attention or interest when being read or talked to
  • Sitting really close to the television
  • Unable to repeat words like parts of the body or colors

Signs hearing loss is affecting speech development in toddlers:

  • Difficulty forming simple sentences
  • Doesn’t ask “why?” or “what?” questions
  • Lack of quiet speech sounds such as “s,” “sh,” “f,” “t,” and “k” in their speech

Hearing Loss in Teens

Teens are at an increased risk of permanently damaging their hearing because of their frequent use of headphones, earbuds, attendance to concerts and general risk-taking behavior. It is essential to protect their hearing since hearing plays an important role in their academic success, social interactions, and future professional achievements. 

Signs of hearing loss in teens:

  • Listening to their phones, music or television at high volumes
  • Asking “what?” frequently
  • Not responding unless eye contact is made
  • Complaining of ringing in the ears
  • Decline in grades
  • Withdrawing socially

Frequently Asked Questions

How is hearing tested in newborns?

Before your child leaves the hospital, infants are typically given an otoacoustic emissions (OAE) test. This is performed while your baby is sleeping. An earphone and microphone are placed in the ear, sounds are played, and the child’s response is measured. If there is no hearing impairment at birth, an echo is reflected back into the ear canal and is measured by the microphone. When hearing impairment is present, no echo will be measured on the OAE test. This test is performed twice to reduce inaccuracies. 

How do earbuds harm hearing?

Earbuds make listening to music, audible books, etc… easy and convenient. Many people use earbuds all day long, keeping them in and listening to the devices while they go about other daily activities. Unfortunately, over time this can contribute to hearing loss if the decibel level (the sound) is too loud and/or the duration is extensive. Loud vibrations from sound destroy the fine hairs that stimulate our auditory nerve fibers, which work to send signals to our brain so we can recognize and interpret sound. 

Sounds greater than 85 decibels (the sound level of a power lawn mower) start to become damaging to your hearing. A volume of around 70% on your devices should be good enough to avoid damage. Some recommend the 60/60 rule: Listen to your device at 60% volume for 60 minutes at a time to avoid hearing damage.

If you believe your child is showing signs of hearing loss, please contact The ENT Centers of North Texas today. Our ENT specialists and expert audiology team can properly diagnose any level of hearing loss in your child, regardless of age.