Help for Parents of Children With Hearing Loss
How It's Diagnosed
Many hospitals test newborns’ hearing before they go home. Others only test infants who are at risk for hearing problems, such as those with deafness in their families. Many states have laws that require hearing tests for all infants. Check with your pediatrician or hospital to find out if your child has had a test. If not, ask how you can get one.
Early hearing loss can affect how a child learns language, which experts believe starts during the first months of life. If problems get diagnosed and treated quickly, babies and children can avoid trouble with language.
The right treatment for a child who can’t hear depends on what caused the problem and how much he can’t hear.
The most common treatments for otitis media include:
Watchful waiting. The condition often goes away on its own, so sometimes the first treatment is simply to watch for changes.
Medications. Your pediatrician may prescribe antibiotics or other meds for your child.
Ear tubes. If the problem doesn’t go away and seems to be affecting your child's hearing, your pediatrician may suggest your child get these tubes. These allow fluid to drain, and they can help prevent infections. If your pediatrician thinks your child needs them, she’ll refer you to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor, also called an otolaryngologist. Your child will need minor surgery to get the ear tubes put in. In a hospital, he’ll get medicine so he'll be asleep during the operation, but he should be able to go home when it’s over.
Other treatments for children with hearing loss include:
Hearing aids. Children can begin to use these as young as 1 month old. A hearing specialist will help make sure that your child gets the right device.
Implants. Many children and adults get cochlear implants, which are electronic devices that doctors put in the inner ear to help with hearing. They’re usually only for children with serious hearing problems after hearing aids haven’t helped.
Many other devices can help children with hearing loss. Ask a hearing specialist about what might be right for your child.