Symptoms You Should Recognize
A PARENTS CONCERN
My next door neighbor in the old neighborhood was concerned about the health of her soon to be born baby. You see Helen, that’s her first name, had three children already and a fourth on the way.
Many afternoons, Helen would talk about her family tree, and how some family members suffer from certain disabilities.
One cousin had a bad limp in the right leg, another uncle suffered from a blood disorder and a nephew suffered symptoms regarding hearing loss.
She knew there were many health issues in her family, but never thought it would catch up and spill over into her family. From past uncles, cousins and aunties, it was only a matter of time.
ACTIONS YOU SHOULD TAKE
Like with any first-time mom starting a new family, she prays that her baby will be normal. Of course, all new moms want this.
But unlike many of Helen’s other friends, they’ve experienced some ‘bad luck’ with the birth of their children. (Not necessarily with the first one, but it happened with one of the others.) This wasn’t Helen’s first rodeo.
Helen wasn’t a first-time parent and could recognize anything ‘out of the ordinary’ when it comes down to monitoring the health of her children.
Considering past issues regarding her ‘family tree,’ she was prepared for anything. Then after a couple of months, she start noticing somethings not right. Helen consulted with her doctor.
After further testing with an ENT specialist, just to be sure, it was confirmed.
ALL THE SIGNS ARE THERE
Here is a list of general warning signs regarding children. As a parent suspecting a hearing issue, please be very noticeable and aware of these signs:
- The child seems to respond inconsistently to sound, sometimes hearing and sometimes not.
- The child intently watches the speakers face.
- The child often says “What?” when spoken to.
- The child exhibits behaviors that seem to favor one ear, such as tilting the head to the left or right when listening.
- There is a history of hearing in the family.
- The child’s mother had rubella (German measles) during pregnancy.
- There is a history of blood incompatibility or difficulty in pregnancy.
- There child has had frequent high fevers.
- The child has a history of chronic ear infections.
- The child frequently complains of hurting ears.
- The child seems to respond better to low – or high – pitched sounds.
- There is a change in how loudly or how much the child babbles or talks.
STAYING ALERT 24/7
If you suspect a hearing loss, examine the child’s speech and language development. The speech of children who have a hearing loss may sound different or less clear because they will be imitating a distorted signal.
Many children have had a hearing impairment since birth and have therefore not heard speech and language of the same quality as that experienced by children with normal hearing.
As a result, their language acquisition is an ongoing, effort-filled sequence instead of a gradual, easy, natural process.
Consider the scores of times small children hear a word before they can learn to actually say it.
Children with an impairment do not hear as many words in their surroundings as easily, and consequently they may build a vocabulary at a much slower pace.
Improving the vocabulary of children with hearing loss is so important. Also expanding children’s hearing opportunities is a big ‘Plus’.
Their words may also be missing word endings (e.g., s, ing), and short words (e.g., the, is, it) may be missing from their speech. The children’s written work may also reflect their inability to hear.
These specific age-related behaviors can signal a hearing loss in infants and toddlers:
BEFORE SIX MONTHS:
- The child DOESN’T startle in some way, such as a blink of the eyes or a jerk of the body or a change of activity in response to sudden, loud sounds.
- The child DOESN’T initiate sounds such as cooing or babbling.
- The child shows NO RESPONSE to noise-making toys.
- The child DOESN’T respond to or is not soothed by the sound of his or her’s mother’s voice.
BY SIX MONTHS:
- The child DOESN’T search for sounds by shifting eyes or turning the head from side to side.
BY TEN MONTHS:
- The child DOESN’T show some kind of response to his or her name.
- He or she REDUCES their amount of vocal behaviors, such as babbling.
BY TWELVE MONTHS:
- The child shows NO RESPONSE to common household sounds, such as pots banging, running water, or footsteps from behind.
- The child yells when imitating sounds.
- The child DOESN’T respond to someone’s voice by turning his or her head or body in all directions to search for the source.
BY FIFTEEN MONTHS:
- The child ISN’T beginning to imitate many sounds or ISN’T attempting to say simple words.
- In order to get the child’s attention, you consistently have to raise your voice.
What to do if your child or yourself seem to have some loss of hearing?
If you suspect that your child is hearing impaired or if you feel that sounds are not as loud as you need them to be, or that speech is muffled, it is a good idea to first have your family physician check for wax in the ear canals, infection, or a treatable disease.
If the problem can be treated medically or surgically, pursue that treatment.
If this is not possible, or if after treatment you or your child still has some difficulty hearing, investigate hearing help with the role of an audiologist.
To begin, ask your physician for a signed statement or form called a “medical clearance” saying that the hearing loss has been medically evaluated and that you or your child may be considered a candidate for different type hearing aids.
This form is required by law before a hearing aid dispenser can provide you with a hearing aid. (Adults over eighteen may sign a waiver of this regulation, but for your best hearing health you should obtain a medical check-up instead.)
Then arrange for a hearing test to determine how much hearing loss there is.
Get a complete hearing evaluation from a licensed audiologist who is a Fellow in the American Academy of Audiology (FAAA) and/or one with a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A) issued by the American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA).
Do not confuse the FAAA or CCC-A certification with the description used by many hearing aid dealers of “Board Certified,” which is granted by the National Hearing Aid Society (NHAS). NHAS is a trade association of hearing and dealers.
Audiologist can measure hearing ability and identify the degree of loss. They can design and direct a rehabilitation program, recommend and fit the most appropriate hearing aids, and measure the hearing improvement from the use of hearing aids.
They will provide guidance and training on how to use the new hearing aids and recommend the use of other assistant technology, if it’s appropriate. They can also teach speech reading.
They can help you and your child to find solutions that reduce the effects of hearing loss by working with your spouse, family, employer, teacher, caregiver, or other medical specialist.
In addition, audiologists evaluate balance, vertigo and dizziness disorders.
If a hearing aid is recommended, be certain to arrange for a trial of at least thirty days through a facility that assist you and your child in becoming oriented to the new experience of hearing with amplification.
Remember, it is a learning experience that does require time, practice, and patience.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 3, 2017 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.