Hearing loss in children can be temporary or permanent. It is important to have hearing loss evaluated by a physician who can rule out medical problems that may be causing the hearing loss, such as middle ear infections, excessive earwax congenital malformations, or a genetic hearing loss.
Many children with temporary hearing loss can have their hearing restored through medical treatment or minor surgery.
If it is determined that your child’s hearing loss is permanent, hearing aids may be recommended to amplify the sound reaching your child’s ear. Ear surgery may be able to restore or significantly improve hearing in some instances.
An inner ear problem can result in a sensorineural impairment or nerve deafness. In most cases, the hair cells in the ear are damaged and do not function. Although many auditory nerve fibers may be intact and can transmit electrical impulses to the brain, these nerve fibers are unresponsive because of hair cell damage.
For those with this profound hearing loss who will not benefit sufficiently from hearing aids, acochlear implant may be considered. Unlike a hearing aid, a cochlear implant bypasses damaged parts of the auditory system and directly stimulates the hearing nerve and allows the child to hear louder and clearer sound.
You will need to decide whether or not your deaf child will communicate primarily with oral speech and/or sign language, and seek early intervention to prevent language delays. Research indicates that habilitation of hearing loss by age six months will prevent subsequent language delays.
Other communication strategies such as auditory verbal therapy, lip reading, and cued speech may also be used in conjunction with a hearing aid or cochlear implant, or independently. We are fortunate to have Dr. Kenneth Scott, the only neurotologist in the state, on our team.