Sunday, 12 August 2012

Are you worried about your child's hearing?

Approximately one child in a thousand will be born with hearing difficulties in the UK every year.  Early diagnosis is very important. When your baby is born, his/her hearing will be tested before you leave hospital.  This is part of the Newborn Hearing Screening 

The following may indicate a potential hearing difficulty:

  • The child may not respond when called
  • Delay in learning to speak
  • Difficulties in listening and attending to speech
  • Speech is unclear
  • Possible inappropriate behaviour or temper tantrums
  • Watches the face/lips intently

If you are worried about your child’s hearing, do not hesitate to contact your doctor who will be able to refer you to an audiologist.  They will carry out some tests to establish whether or not your child has a hearing loss.

There are two main types of hearing difficulty or deafness:

1.  Conductive deafness – sounds are unable to pass through the outer and middle ear.  This is often caused by a build up of fluid in the middle ear known as “glue ear”.  This type of deafness can be temporary and may be aided by the insertion of grommets to drain the fluid.

2.  Sensori-neural deafness – due to damage or loss of hair cells in the cochlea in the inner ear.

A child may sometimes have a mixture of the above two forms of deafness.

A child may be born deaf or become deaf following an illness such as meningitis.  Sometimes a child may become deaf and the cause is not known.

There are different levels of deafness.  They are measured in decibels (dB).  These are usually classified as:

  • Mild                  20-40 dB
  • Moderate       41-70 dB
  • Severe           71-95 dB
  • Profound       95+

If a child is deaf in one ear it is known as unilateral deafness; in both ears, bilateral deafness.

A speech and language therapist will help to assess the impact on speech, language and communication.

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