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Help for Parents of Children With Hearing Loss

Symptoms of Hearing Loss in Children

As a parent, you are likely to be the first person to notice hearing problems in your child. Some early signs of a hearing problem include:

  • Not reacting to loud noises
  • Not responding to your voice
  • Making simple sounds that taper off

A child with otitis media may also:

  • Pull or rub an ear
  • Be constantly cranky for no obvious reason
  • Stop paying attention and have little energy
  • Not understand directions
  • Often ask for the TV or radio to be louder
  • Have a fever
  • Have ear pain

Check with your child's doctor if you think that your child has hearing problems.

Diagnosing Hearing Loss in Children

Many hospitals test newborns for hearing problems. Other hospitals only test infants who are at risk for hearing problems, such as those with deafness in the family. Some 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, see how you can get one.

Treatments for Children With Hearing Loss

Treatments for children with hearing loss depend upon the cause and amount of hearing loss.

The most common treatments for otitis media include:

Watchful waiting. Because the condition often clears on its own, sometimes the first treatment for otitis media is simply to watch the child for any changes.

Medications. Your pediatrician may prescribe antibiotics or other medications for your child.

Ear tubes. If the problem continues 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 ear tubes, he or she will refer you to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor, also known as an otolaryngologist. Inserting ear tubes is a minor outpatient surgical procedure, but your child will have to have a general anesthetic in the hospital.

Other treatments for children with hearing loss include:

Hearing aids. Children with hearing loss 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 correct hearing aid for him or her.

Implants. Many children and adults get cochlear implants, electronic devices that help with hearing. These are usually used for children with serious hearing problems, when hearing aids have not helped.

Other hearing devices. There are many other devices that can help children with hearing loss. Ask a hearing specialist about what might be right for your child.

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