The ability to hear the noises around them is a crucial factor in how children develop emotionally and learn. If this ability is in any way hindered, the consequences can be far-reaching.
According to Deafness Research UK, 840 babies are born with a significant hearing loss in the UK every year. However, tens of thousands more will suffer various stages of temporary hearing loss during their childhood.
The reasons for hearing loss in children are numerous. A low birth weight, a premature birth and babies born to mothers with certain infections can all lead to hearing problems. Various infections and developmental issues have the potential to cause hearing loss after birth. Fortunately, these problems can be picked up through a relatively simple hearing tests.
An early diagnosis of hearing problems in children is the key to successful treatment. But how can you tell that your child needs a hearing test?
Your child becomes frustrated easily when learning or listening
Children with hearing loss have to work extra hard in order to pick up certain sounds. This can get tiresome over a number of hours – leading to frustration and anger. This frustration can manifest itself in a number of ways, which include tantrums, tears and rapid mood swings.
Your child avoids large groups of children
In situations where large groups of children congregate, the noise levels can be very high. Situations like this can make it very difficult for children with even slight hearing loss to hear what individuals are saying. As a result, a child might avoid playing with large groups in the playground, or might try to avoid group discussions in a classroom.
Your child doesn’t always respond to your questions straight away
If your child is failing to respond to your questions and commands the first time, there is a chance that hearing loss is to blame. This will become obvious if your child responds when you increase the volume of your speaking voice.
Your child doesn’t enunciate full words
A child who cuts off the beginnings or endings of words may be doing so because of long-term hearing loss. Some words may sound mumbled, and others may be almost impossible to understand at times.
Your child or baby doesn’t get startled at sudden and loud noises
If your baby fails to respond when a door slams shut or when a balloon pops, this could be a sign of hearing loss. It is an involuntary response – even for a baby – to react with a startle and a physical movement in response to a loud and sudden noise. If you notice that your baby isn’t reacting to loud sounds, you should ask your doctor for a referral to new-born hearing screening at The Portland Hospital.
Hearing loss that isn’t picked up early on in a child’s development can lead to a range of issues, including speech problems and social exclusion at school. Learning and academic achievement might also be affected if steps aren’t taken to address the problem during a child’s developmental years.
In some cases, hearing returns to normal after treatment for the underlying cause. However, intervention may be required if problems persist, which might involve the fitting of a hearing aid or the insertion of grommets – designed to keep the middle ear aerated and prevent further fluid from collecting. Speech therapy may also be recommended for older children whose speech has become delayed or irregular.
Once you have spotted the first signs of hearing loss in your child, quick assessment by audiologists and consultant paediatricians is the key to reversing or halting the condition.
[Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by The Portland Hospital – the only private hospital in the UK dedicated exclusively to the care of women and children. For more information, please visit – www.theportlandhospital.com]