Is hearing loss affecting your child?
Hearing loss is no longer a concern solely affecting the elderly. Many Americans are unaware of the increasing prevalence of hearing loss amongst children and young adults. This lack of awareness is one of the main reasons today’s youth aren’t getting the treatment they need.
One in five kids ages 12 to 19 is suffering from hearing loss, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) campaign Identify the Signs.
Newborn hearing screening is one way to detect hearing loss early. In 2011, more than 97 percent of U.S. newborns were screened for hearing loss, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While hearing loss can be present at birth, many children develop hearing issues after they leave the hospital. “A child’s hearing can be tested at any age,” says Dr. Randi Luxmore, audiologist at Dreyer Medical Clinic in Aurora, Ill. “Although it’s best to test children at a young age, early identification is key in ensuring successful hearing loss intervention in children.”
Common causes of hearing loss in children can include ear infections, illnesses such as chicken pox or influenza, exposure to loud noises, and head injuries. Recognizing the signs of hearing loss and intervening early is the most effective way to treat and prevent future related issues. Parents should look for the following signs of hearing loss in their children:
- Lack of attention to sounds
- Failure to follow simple directions
- Failure to respond when his/her name is called
- Delays in speech and language development
- Pulling or scratching at his/her ears
- Difficulty achieving academically, especially in reading and math
- Social isolation and feeling unhappy in school
- Persistent ear discomfort after exposure to loud noise
Seeking a hearing assessment from an audiologist is a crucial step to treatment for a child demonstrating any of the signs above. “If you suspect that a child may have a hearing loss, schedule an evaluation right away,” Dr. Luxmore says. If left untreated, hearing loss can have a negative impact on children’s speech and language development, leading to future problems in communication and learning.
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