Hearing Loss In Toddlers - Types, Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Hearing Loss In Toddlers

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As your baby grows up, you track the various developmental changes. There are various milestones through the first year and beyond that your baby crosses while growing up. One such crucial milestone is the ability to hear and speak.

Hearing and speaking are essential for toddlers to understand and explore the world around them. They are the tools through which they develop their various other social and developmental skills. Hearing loss in toddlers can often be difficult to spot, if not checked in time.

Sometimes the hearing loss in toddlers is actually temporary and may be a result of earwax build-up. It is important you get a thorough check-up done of your toddler in case there are any hearing issues. Read on to know about how to identify and address hearing problems in toddlers.

What Are The Types Of Hearing Loss In Toddlers?

Hearing loss in toddlers can mainly be of the following two types:

  • Congenital hearing loss: This is the type of hearing loss where hearing problems are present right from the time of birth
  • Acquired hearing loss: This is the type of hearing loss where hearing problems occur after birth

[ Read: Impetigo In Toddlers ]

Causes Of Congenital Hearing Loss:

Here are the possible causes that can lead to congenital hearing loss:

  • Ototoxic medication used during pregnancy. These are types of medicines that can potentially damage the ear or lead to a ringing sensation in the ear
  • Infections encountered during pregnancy like German measles, toxoplasmosis or cytomegalovirus (1)
  • If any serious infection was present at the time of birth like herpes, rubella or cytomegalovirus
  • If the birth weight of the toddler was less than 3 lbs.
  • If the toddler’s head had an unusual appearance at birth
  • If the toddler had required a blood transfusion at birth
  • If the toddler had required any drugs for respiratory problems in case of a premature birth
  • Brain or nervous system disorder
  • Any genetic disorder like Down’s syndrome, Waardenburg’s syndrome or Ushers
  • If there is any family history of hearing loss

Causes Of Acquired Hearing Loss:

Here are the possible causes that can lead to acquired hearing loss:

  • If the toddler has been exposed to excessive noise like firecrackers or very loud music
  • If the toddler has suffered any serious injury to the head
  • If the toddler has been given any ototoxic medication
  • If the toddler has suffered any middle ear infection that was left untreated
  • If the toddler has suffered any infections such as mumps, measles, meningitis or whooping cough
  • If the toddler has suffered perforation of the ear drum

[ Read: Bronchitis In Toddler ]

Symptoms Of Hearing Loss In Toddlers:

Keenly observe if your toddler is displaying the following developmental behaviours or not. Your toddler should be exhibiting these more or less around the age mentioned. If you spot any considerable delays or lack of signs mentioned, do consult the doctor immediately.

1. From Birth To 04thMonth:

Your toddler should:

  • Feel startled at loud noises
  • Feel calm at your or main care giver’s voice
  • Awaken or move in sleep at any loud noise or voice
  • Respond to your voice

2. From 04thTo 09thMonth:

Your toddler should:

  • Smile when someone calls name or speaks
  • Cry for different needs
  • Try and look towards familiar sounds
  • Be able to understand basic hand movements like bye-bye
  • Try and locate sound generating toys and rattles
  • Make babbling sounds

3. From 09thTo 15thMonth:

Your toddler should:

  • Be able to say words like da-da, ma-ma, pa-pa
  • Make different sounds to say different words
  • Put two or more words together
  • Respond in different ways to different tones of voice
  • Try to repeat the sounds you make

[ Read: Ways To Remove Splinter From Toddler ]

4. 15thTo 24thMonth:

Your toddler should:

  • Be able to follow simple commands
  • Point to different body parts or objects when someone asks
  • Like listening to music, stories or certain sounds

Treating Hearing Loss In Toddlers:

Babies are tested for hearing as early as before leaving the hospital after birth. However, if your toddler is suffering from hearing loss, your doctor will choose the best method to treat the same depending on severity and age.

1. Wait And Watch:

Sometimes hearing loss is temporary in toddlers. The doctor might ask you to wait for a few days and see if the condition is better.

2. Medication:

In certain conditions, the doctor might prescribe medications or antibiotics to help treat toddler hearing problems.

3. Ear Tubes:

Ear tubes allow the fluid to drain from your toddler’s ears and help prevent any infection. This is a minor surgical procedure usually done under general anesthesia.

[ Read: Concussion In Toddlers ]

4. Hearing Aids:

Hearing aids are specifically designed for toddlers and can be used as early as for a one-month old infant. The hearing specialist will check and ensure your toddler is fitted with the right hearing aids.

5. Implants:

When all other methods to aid hearing have failed cochlear implants are used for toddlers. Cochlear implants are electronic devices that aid in hearing (2) .

While there are certain hearing conditions that carry on well into adulthood, it is possible to treat toddler hearing loss initially with timely medical intervention.

Keep an eye on your toddler’s developmental milestones. Watch out for the warning signs and make sure you visit the doctor whenever you feel something is amiss.

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