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Screening Hearing Loss
Screening Hearing Loss. A hearing loss can happen when any part of the ear is not working in the usual way. This includes the outer ear, middle ear, inner ear, hearing (acoustic) nerve, and auditory system. Hearing loss can vary greatly among people and can be due to any of a number of causes.
The signs and symptoms of hearing loss are different for each child. If you think that a child might have hearing loss, ask the child’s doctor for a hearing screening as soon as possible. Don’t wait!
Early diagnosis for hearing loss
First, universal screening of newborns for hearing loss has allowed deaf and hard-of-hearing infants to be identified much earlier. Although the screening isn’t mandatory in all states (including Washington), it is offered to all parents, and 95 percent of newborns in the United States are now screened.
The options for technological support for children with hearing loss have improved significantly. Cochlear implants are now approved for children as young as 1 year old, helping children in that ultra-critical language-learning window.
Today, infants and young children with hearing loss benefit from hearing aids that are digital, programmable and designed for tiny ears, as well as from surgical procedures that improve hearing. Also available are hearing assistive devices such as FM systems that allow sound to be directly transmitted from a speaker’s microphone to a child’s ear or hearing aid.
Even if a child has passed a hearing screening before, it is important to look out for the following signs.
Signs in Babies
- Does not startle at loud noises.
- Does not turn to the source of a sound from birth to 3 or 4 months of age.
- Does not say single words, such as “dada” or “mama” by 1 year of age.
- Turns head when he or she sees you but not if you only call out his or her name. This sometimes is mistaken for not paying attention or just ignoring, but could be the result of a partial or complete hearing loss.
- Seems to hear some sounds but not others.
Signs in Children
- Speech is delayed.
- Speech is not clear.
- Does not follow directions. This sometimes is mistaken for not paying attention or just ignoring, but could be the result of a partial or complete hearing loss.
- Often says, “Huh?”
- Turns the TV volume up too high.
Babies and children should reach milestones in how they play, learn, communicate and act. A delay in any of these milestones could be a sign of hearing loss or other developmental problem.
Screening and Diagnosis
Hearing screening can tell if a child might have hearing loss. Hearing screening is easy and is not painful. In fact, babies are often asleep while being screened. It takes a very short time — usually only a few minutes.
Babies & Children
All babies should have a hearing screening no later than 1 month of age. Most babies have their hearing screened while still in the hospital. If a baby does not pass a hearing screening, it’s very important to get a full hearing test as soon as possible, but no later than 3 months of age.
Children should have their hearing tested before they enter school or any time there is a concern about the child’s hearing. Children who do not pass the hearing screening need to get a full hearing test as soon as possible.
Treatments and Intervention Services
No single treatment or intervention is the answer for every child or family. Good treatment plans will include close monitoring, follow-ups and any changes needed along the way. There are many different types of communication options for people with hearing loss and for their families. Some of these options include:
- Learning other ways to communicate, such as sign language
- Medicine and surgery to correct some types of hearing loss
- Family support services
- Technology to help with communication, such as hearing aids and cochlear implants