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What are the Symptoms of Hearing Loss in Children?

Child with Audiologist

Adults can tell you when they can’t hear something or if a person sounds muffled. But hearing loss can be more challenging to detect in young children, especially those who cannot yet speak.

We typically associate hearing loss with aging, but many conditions can lead to hearing loss in children too. Otitis media, for instance, is an inner ear infection that can disrupt the sensitive apparatus of the internal ear, leading to temporary hearing loss and possible damage to auditory tissue. There is also a range of congenital causes, including autosomal hearing loss where parents pass on hearing loss genes to their child.

What are the symptoms of hearing loss in children? How can you tell if a child is struggling to listen to the world around them? Take a look at some of these common symptoms of childhood hearing loss.

No reaction to loud noises

All humans are born with a reflexive response to loud noises. Even infants will jump if they hear a loud bang. But children with hearing loss have no method for detecting these noises, and so they will no react if they hear one. Failing to be startled by loud noises is a clear indication that you should visit your audiologist.

Limited speech

If an infant cannot hear the speech of the parent, then it cannot model sounds in its brain and then repeat them back at the parent. If you notice that your child is getting older but failing to develop speech, then, again, it’s best to visit an audiologist who can perform the correct diagnosis. Remember, children have a short window of time in which they learn to speak, after which the opportunity is lost.

Problems learning new concepts

Children need to be able to hear the people around them to understand the world. Without speech, it’s hard for children to learn new things, and they may get stuck in a particular developmental stage.

Doesn’t respond to conversations

Most infants will babble back when you speak to them. But a child with hearing loss may not understand that another person’s mouth is producing sounds and so they will not try to emulate it. Your child could be suffering from hearing loss if they make fewer noises with their mouths than other infants of a similar age.

Failing to respond to their name

Infants learn early on that certain sounds are associated with them, including their name. A child will often respond to their name before they even have a concept of what a name is. However, if a child has hearing loss, then they may repeatedly fail to respond when you call for them.

Getting frustrated in loud environments

Children with hearing loss often struggle to pick up on specific noises in loud environments. This inability can then lead to frustration, which plays out in tantrums and crying. If you notice your child becoming agitated in high-noise settings, then it could be a sign that their hearing is not as good as it should be.