According to data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), out of every 1,000 children in the United States, 2 to 3 are born deaf or with impaired hearing. As childhood progresses, hearing loss may arise from physical injury, disease, loud noises, or physical irregularities in the ear. 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.
Fortunately, there are a number of indications of possible hearing loss that you, as a parent, can watch for. In babies, such signs include the child failing to be startled by loud noises, turning his or her head when he sees you but not when you call his or her name, not turning toward the source of a sound after the age of 6 months, or seeming to hear some sounds, but not others.
Otitis media will often cause children to complain of ear pain, but other signs to look for are pulling at or rubbing the ears, failing to understand instructions or increasing the TV volume. If you find that your child carefully watches people’s faces as they are speaking, has difficulty locating the source of sounds, or uses the words “what?” or “huh?” many times a day, these could also be signs of a hearing problem. As children get older, even mild hearing loss may cause delays in speech and language development and can lead to learning problems once the child starts school. It may also create 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. The sooner any issues are identified, the sooner they can be addressed. That’s why it is “never too soon to get a first hearing test”. We would be happy to arrange for a hearing screening for your child or children, and if any hearing problems are found, we have the expertise and resources to help solve them.