Significant Deafness present at birth is one of the most common major disabilities. Early detection can prevent further disabilities in speech, language and cognition in the child’s development. Hearing Loss can occur owing to various defects in the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. Some ear conditions can be treated medically and surgically while some may not be. If there is a defect in the middle ear then the child might complain of ear ache or blockage. This may also be accompanied by ear discharge. This type of deafness in children may be temporary in nature and often through medical intervention may be cured. Generally children who are more prone to upper respiratory problems complain of such type of hair loss. On the other hand generally the defects in inner ear are generally permanent in nature. If so then it may also lead to adverse effects on language development and scholastic performance in children.
How to suspect Deafness in children?
Our hearing mechanism is functional right from birth. So one way to detect is to observe how a one month baby or a two year toddler reacts to the various sounds in the environment. The child may not speak or understand the details, but he or she should respond to doorbell, telephone rings, or when an object suddenly falls down. By the age of two, the child develops language. Spontaneous expressive language is a strong indicator of normal hearing in children of this age group. By the time the child goes to school around to three to four years, the indication of hearing loss becomes even more evident. With deafness in children would fail to acquire appropriate language. However mild to moderate hearing loss in children often go unnoticed till the age of five to six years. There may be other symptoms too like the child may speak too loudly or softly, he or she put the T.V at high volume, may not be like to play with other children as he or she is unable to participate in communication with friends. The child may respond inconsistently or inappropriately. If some of the symptoms are evident as mentioned above then it is advisable that an audiologist be consulted for conducting some hearing tests.
Hearing Tests for Children:
Normally Doctors would begin with a physical examination of the ears and seek information about the ear canal, the ear drum, etc. However merely looking at the ear may not give information about the function of the ear. For this tests need to be conducted about the sensory function of the ear conclusion is drawn, whether the hearing is normal or abnormal and also the type of the hearing loss.
The Hearing Impairment Test may be Subjective or Objective. In Subjective Tests the person has to participate in it and indicate whether he or she hears the sound or not. However incase of children this may be difficult. So the child is asked to carry out a certain activity to indicate the hearing of the sound. The result is recorded and is called Pune Tone Audiometry. Audiogram is a graphical representation of the hearing sensitivity of the ear.
In Objective tests the individual does not participate in the test. This is very helpful as the instrument does the testing automatically. These tests are called as OAE- Otoacoustic Emission Test and another test is called as Auditory evoked Response (ABR) Test. Normally these tests are more reliable and provide valuable information about the plan of action.