Children hearing problems

What did you say, Mommy? (Pre-school children)

In the past two weeks I’ve seen quite a few concerned parents that brought their children for a hearing assessment due to different factors.

Parents, grandparents or teachers are almost always the first to suspect that a child might suffer from hearing loss. In most of these cases, the culprit might only be excessive earwax or middle-ear infections. This might lead to only a mild hearing loss, but the effect of a mild hearing loss on language development or school performance will always be negative. On a more positive note, even a mild hearing loss will be detected in a hearing test. In most of these cases, hearing can be restored through medical treatment or minor surgery.

Some children might however suffer from a sensorineural hearing loss (also called nerve deafness), which is permanent. Most of these children have some usable hearing, and children as young as three months of age can be fitted with hearing aids.

So when should you bring your child for a hearing assessment? My first reaction would be to trust your gut! It is important to observe your child for any signs of potential hearing loss.

If any of the indicators, behaviours or symptoms mentioned below is present, your child might suffer from a possible hearing loss:

  • Your child does not respond when called
  • Often says, “Huh?”
  • Inconsistently responding to sound
  • Does not follow directions
  • Language and speech development is delayed
  • Unclear speech (‘at’ for cat). He might not hear the ‘c’.
  • Frequent or recurrent ear infections,
  • Family history of hearing loss (hearing loss can be inherited),
  • Poor school performance or the teacher is concerned about hearing
  • The volume of the TV or iPod is too high
  • Diagnosis of a learning disability
  • Infectious diseases that cause hearing loss (meningitis, measles or cytomegalovirus)

Compiled by: Liesel van der Merwe