Many things may cause hearing loss in a child. Since early hearing loss affects how a child learns language, problems with hearing are best diagnosed and treated quickly.
Some children are born with hearing problems. Other possible causes of hearing loss occur later in childhood and include:
- Otitis media: Middle ear infections, caused by fluid build-up behind the eardrum that gets infected. Even if there is no pain or infection, the fluid can affect hearing if it stays there, at least for a short time. In severe cases, otitis media can lead to permanent hearing loss.
- Illness or injury: Young children can lose their hearing after being ill with meningitis, encephalitis, measles, chicken pox, and the flu or due to head injuries or very loud noises.
Unless there is a diagnosis at birth, early signs of a hearing loss in a child include:
- No reaction to loud noises
- No response to your voice
- Your child makes simple sounds that taper off
Please contact the child’s doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.
Otitis Media Treatment May Include Medications or Minor Surgery
With a diagnosis of otitis media, your child’s doctor may prescribe antibiotics or other medications for your child. If the problem does not go away and seems to be affecting your child’s hearing, the doctor may suggest your child get ear tubes. These tubes allow fluid to drain and help prevent infections. You will be referred to an otolaryngologist or ear nose and throat (ENT) specialist, as your child will need minor surgery to get the ear tubes put in.
The surgery, called a myringotomy, is a common procedure and is usually done on an outpatient basis, allowing your child to have the surgery and go home on the same day. During surgery, your child is placed under general anesthesia while the ENT specialist makes a small incision in the eardrum, removes the fluid and inserts the ear tube. Most ear tubes fall out within six to nine months and the holes close on their own. Some tubes may need to be removed and some holes may need to be surgically closed. At The Polyclinic, the outpatient myringotomy is performed at the First Hill Surgery Center.