When most people think of hearing loss, they think of hearing loss which occurs from age, called presbycusis. But can other populations of people like children have hearing loss? So yes, children can have a hearing loss.
Hearing loss affects anyone across the lifespan. The origin of hearing loss can vary for each person. To understand hearing loss, it is important to have some knowledge of the auditory system and how it can be affected.
In children, a common type of hearing loss is due to their differences in anatomy from a fully developed adult and is fluid in their ears. Fluid in the ears is classified as conductive hearing loss, which is different from sensorineural hearing loss. A conductive hearing loss can be temporary, and more often than not, can be treated. Conductive hearing losses are due to an underlying pathology called the middle ear. The middle ear encompasses the eardrum (tympanic membrane), ossicles (three bones that help stimulate your sensory auditory organ), and the middle ear space connected to the eustachian tube.
A sensorineural hearing loss is the result of a pathology affecting the sensory organ for hearing, known as the cochlea. Within the cochlea, there are hair cells that help your brain determine information about an incoming sound. A sensorineural hearing loss is often unable to be cured, but depending on the underlying pathology can be aided with things like hearing aids.
Children, just like adults, can have a hearing loss that is either conductive or sensorineural. There are varieties of reasons why a child has a hearing loss like illness, ear infections, genetic components, anatomical abnormalities, etc. Treatment plans are determined based on the type of hearing loss they have and the underlying pathology of the hearing loss. If you notice your child is not responding to sounds appropriately, it is important to go to a local hearing care professional to determine the type of hearing loss. Children rely on their auditory pathway to learn the language and develop other skills in communication and learning. Therefore beginning a treatment plan for children with hearing loss early keeps them on track for their development!