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Health & Parenting

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Help for Parents of Children With Hearing Loss

Diagnosing Hearing Loss in Children

Many hospitals test all 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 hearing test. If not, ask how you can get one.

Treatments for Children With Hearing Loss

Early hearing loss can affect how a child learns language, which experts believe starts during the first months of life. If hearing 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 for otitis media is simply to watch for any 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 that your child get ear tubes. These allow fluid to drain and can help prevent infection. 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 sleep 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 hearing aids when they are 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 inside the inner ear to help with hearing. They’re usually only for children with serious hearing problems when hearing aids have not helped.

Many other devices can help children with hearing loss. Ask a hearing specialist about what might be right for your child.

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