While hearing loss mostly affects older adults, it can affect children, too. Some children are born with hearing problems (congenital hearing loss), but short-term or permanent hearing loss can happen for other reasons after birth (acquired hearing loss).
Below are some reasons why children can lose their hearing:
Premature birth or low birth weight.
Babies born prematurely (before 37 weeks gestation) or weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces are at increased risk of hearing loss.
A number of things can cause your baby to be born prematurely or at a low weight, so preventing this can be difficult. However, you can reduce your risk of having a premature birth through proper prenatal care and a healthy lifestyle.
Ear infection is a common cause of conductive hearing loss, especially in children. Five out of 6 children will get an ear infection by the time they are 3 years old.
Short-term hearing loss can occur if fluid builds up in the ear for a long time. Permanent hearing damage can happen if your child experiences frequent ear infections. Make sure your child receives proper treatment for ear infections to reduce these risks.
Frequent exposure to loud noises can cause sensorineural hearing loss. Examples include attending a loud concert or wearing headphones with the volume turned up too high.
Protect young children from loud noises, and explain the negative impact of loud noises on hearing.
Injuries to the ear or head.
Trauma to the head or ear can damage the structure of the ear and cause hearing loss. Contact sports like football and wrestling can lead to these types of injuries. Proper protective gear can prevent head trauma during sports activities.
Other childhood infections like chickenpox, measles and meningitis can also cause hearing loss.
It's important to have your child's hearing checked on a regular basis, especially during the first few years of life. Early hearing loss can slow a child's development, affecting his or her ability to communicate, learn and socialize.
Audiologists with The Christ Hospital Physicians perform comprehensive hearing evaluations for children and adults.