Nurturing Healthy Hearing in Children

Children's Hearing

Hearing plays a crucial role in a child’s speech and language development, education and social interactions. Early detection of hearing loss allows for early intervention, which can make a world of difference in a child’s life. With advances in technology and treatment options, children with hearing loss can receive the support they need to develop language skills and thrive.

One of the challenges with hearing loss in children is that it’s not always obvious or immediately apparent. Unlike other health issues where symptoms or signs are more visible, hearing loss can be invisible and subtle, especially in infants and toddlers. This is why regular hearing screenings are so important, starting from birth.

These signs and symptoms vary for different age groups. Normally developing babies and young children have similar developmental milestones. If you or a health professional observe the absence of any of these milestones, then further investigation is recommended.

Some common things to look out for, in no particular order:

  1. Lack of a response to sounds. Babies typically startle or turn towards sound. Your baby should react to loud noise and your voice.
  2. Limited or unclear speech
  3. Frequent ear infections: children who experience frequency ear infections should have their hearing monitored.
  4. Difficulty following and understanding instructions
  5. Inattentiveness or behaviour issues: your child seems easily distracted, has trouble focusing, or exhibits behavioral issues
  6. Turning up the volume consistently volume on electronic devices, such as the TV
  7. Complains of ear pain or discomfort
  8. Family history of hearing loss

The first few years of a child’s life are critical for language development. Children learn to communicate by listening to the sounds around them and imitating what they hear. Children with untreated hearing loss are at a higher risk of developing speech and language delays, learning difficulties, and behavioural problems.

You, as the parent, are a wonderful resource in identifying hearing loss in your child and your opinions are important. There is not always just one sign that a child has a hearing issue, and you may notice a combination of behaviours as well as delayed milestones in your child. Any concerns you have should be voiced to your medical specialist, who will be able to provide you with a referral to have your child’s hearing assessed by an audiologist. The maternal child health nurse, speech pathologist and/or kindergarten/childcare can also play a role in helping to identify possible hearing loss.

As parents, it’s important to be proactive in safeguarding your child’s auditory health from a young age. Encouraging habits like limiting exposure to loud noises, wearing earmuffs when the exposure is unavoidable, ensuring regular hearing screenings, and teaching the importance of proper ear care, like not using cotton buds in the ears, are all steps in promoting healthy hearing.

It’s always better to have a hearing test and find nothing wrong than miss an underlying hearing loss that could impact on your child’s future development, resulting in possible communication and ear health consequences.

To make an appointment, reach out to the team at Victorian Hearing, your local, independent, and Australian owned and operated audiology practice. With ten clinics across Melbourne, you are sure to find a friendly smile and support from the Victorian Hearing team. Call (03) 9558 8842 or book online.