Getting your kids’ hearing tested can not only determine whether they’ve suffered hearing loss, but can also unveil other issues. Time Warner Cable News’ Jill Urban filed this Healthy Living report.
Twins Nora and Hannah are happy, playful little girls, but at 23 months, their parents started having concerns about their hearing.
"My twins started to have multiple ear infections and they are kind of delayed in their speaking," says Dr. Firas Ahmed, the girls’ father.
After a failed hearing test, they were referred to Dr. Joseph Haddad at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. It turned out that they have excess fluid on their ears, which is quite common.
“The most common reason for the problem is middle ear infections that result in chronic fluid that doesn’t clear from the ear. Children are born with Eustachian Tubes that are different than adults. They are shorter and they are more horizontal and therefore they don’t drain the ears as well,” says Dr. Haddad.
The condition is very treatable. Sometimes it can clear up on its own or with the help of antibiotics. If not, tubes can be surgically implanted to help the fluid drain better. If the issue still exists by age three or four, it could be a result of enlarged adenoids, which may need to be removed. There are also some other less common reasons for pediatric hearing problems.
“You can also have wax impaction that can cause decrease in the hearing. Children who have multiple medical problems or who need certain kinds of medications - a complication can be hearing loss from those medications. But those are more unusual circumstances,“ says Haddad.
Sometimes there can be a nerve issue, which is often detected at birth.
Another issue often found in older children is noise trauma. This is a result of listening to things too loudly. If your child uses headphones or ear-buds, check the volume. You should not be able to hear the sound when standing next to them. If you do, lower it because it could lead to a problem later on.
Hearing screenings are often done at the pediatrician’s office, but parents should look for some red flags.
“Speech delay, loud voice, inattention or unresponsiveness to loud sounds and the need for loud volume when watching television,” says Dr. Haddad.
If you suspect your child may have a hearing issue, check with your pediatrician.