According to the Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC), about three million children in the United States have lost some of their hearing. By discussing the importance of protecting their hearing, you can help your child form good listening habits to prevent premature hearing loss.
Causes of Hearing Loss in Children
Children are attracted to loud noises. They could be in their favorite TV show, a toy that talks or sings, or music on a smart device. But exposure to loud noises damages cilia, the delicate hair cells in the ears that send auditory signals to the brain. And cilia cannot be repaired once they’re damaged.
Here are some other causes of childhood hearing loss:
- Head or neck injuries
- Frequent ear infections
- Tumors or deformities in the ear
- Earwax build-up
- Genetic factors
- Birth defects
- Influenza, chickenpox, measles, meningitis and mumps
- Ototoxic medications
Symptoms of Hearing Loss
In an infant:
- Doesn’t turn toward sound sources after six months
- Not startled by sudden sounds
- Can’t say single words like “mama” or “dada” by 12 months
- Doesn’t respond when called by name
In a child:
- Can’t hear sounds at a particular frequency or volume
- Needs to stand close to a sound source to hear
- Turns the TV volume up to excessive levels
- Frequently asks you to repeat yourself
- Delayed or unclear speech
Older children and teens
- Angles “good” ear toward a sound source
- Speaks louder than usual
- Complains of blocked ears
- Poor behavior or grades in school
Leaving your child’s hearing loss untreated puts him at risk for developing speech, language, and socializing issues. Schedule an appointment with us if you notice your child exhibits signs of hearing loss.
Most childhood hearing loss is preventable. Teaching your child safe listening techniques will help them learn the importance of hearing safety. Here are some tips to help you protect your child’s hearing:
- Have regular discussions about the importance of healthy hearing.
- Remind your child to turn down the volume on the TV.
- Have your child take breaks from listening to music or watching TV.
- Limit her use of earbuds and headphones.
- Use decibel-tracking apps to monitor his noise exposure.
- Place tape over speakers on toys to muffle the volume.
- Remove batteries from noisy toys.
Don’t forget to practice what you preach. Your child will learn healthy hearing habits from you when you set a good example.