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Hearing loss affects people of every age. For every 1000 children born, 2 to 3 will be deaf or have some level of hearing impairment according to data from the National Institutes of Health. Childhood hearing loss can be brought on by congenital irregularities in the structure of the ear, by a middle ear infection known as otitis media, by injury or very loud noises, or by diseases such as measles, meningitis, or chickenpox. Whatever the cause, testing hearing early is key, because the sooner any hearing problems are detected, the better the child’s chances of attaining their full educational and developmental potential.

Luckily, the most common signs of hearing loss in children are well documented for parents and caregivers to look for. In babies, the key thing to look for is how the infant reacts – or doesn’t react – to sounds. Observe whether the child is startled by loud noises and turns toward the source of the sound. Also look for failure to turn the head when you call her name or reacting to some sounds and not others.

Children with otitis media may also pull or rub at their ears, become listless or inattentive, have fevers, complain of ear pain, often do not understand instructions, and may ask for the TV to be played louder. Watch how your child interacts with others. Notice if they say “what?” or “huh?” frequently. Also note if they seem to watch the face of the speaker very carefully. Even mild hearing loss is serious, because as the children grow it can lead to delays in language and speech development, learning difficulties in school, and emotional or behavioral problems.

These problems are why many states have programs that guarantee early hearing testing in children. The tests are painless, and can be performed even on babies. There is no such thing as “too soon” when it comes to testing your children’s hearing. The sooner any conditions are found, the sooner they can be treated. So give us a call. We’d be happy to schedule a hearing screening for your child or children and to help if any hearing problems are found.