According to the World Health Organization, approximately 5% of the world’s population has hearing loss (328 million are adults and 32 million, children). Approximately 3 out of every 1,000 babies in Mexico are born with a hearing loss, being one of the most frequent congenital consequences.
- The baby does not show attention to the sounds of the environment, does not turn or startle at loud noises.
- The baby does not turn looking for the voice of family members or the sound of toys.
- No response to the mom’s voice unless she is in front of him or her.
- The baby does not babble or starts to babble and stops.
- The baby does not say his/her first words, as it is common, by 18 months or by the age of 2.
Do not wait for help if you suspect your child may have a problem. You and family members know more about your child than anyone else.
Early detection and treatment of speech, language and hearing disorders makes a difference in your child’s learning and communication, which can prevent emotional, educational and social interaction problems.
- Difficulty in understanding other people when they talk or whisper.
- Often requests for others to speak slower, clearer or louder.
- Trouble listening to the television, radio and telephone at a volume that other people consider normal.
Generally people who suffer from some hearing loss withdraw themselves from some social activities due to the difficulty of hearing and communicating.
Babies and toddlers:
- Newborn screening
- Otoacoustic emissions test
- Brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) test
Young people and adults:
- Audiometry, Tympanometry, Cochlea impressions
Congenital causes that may be present at birth or a bit later:
- Hereditary transmitted by the parents.
- Problems during pregnancy and childbirth (low weight due to premature birth, asphyxiation during the birth or complications during the birth resulting in hypoxemia of the baby, rubella, syphilis or other infections).
- Improper use of ototoxic drugs (the list gathers more than 130, such as gentamicin) during pregnancy.
Acquired causes that can cause hearing loss at any age:
- Infectious diseases such as meningitis, measles and mumps, mainly during childhood, but also later in life.
- Damage to the inner ear due to the effect of ototoxic drugs (some antibiotics and antimalarials) at any age.
- Chronic ear infections.
- Strong blows to the skull or ears.
- Listening to very loud music, especially with headphones.
- Repeated exposure to loud noises, such as machinery, cement drills, etc.
Hearing losses have different degrees, ranging from mild, moderate, severe to profound.
A person with mild hearing loss may be able to hear some sounds, while a person with profound loss may not hear anything at all.
In order to understand a little more about the difference between losses, it is interesting to know where the auditory deficiency comes from. That is why medicine has defined four types of losses:
- Conductive: it occurs when there is a problem in the outer or middle ear. Most children with conductive hearing loss have a slight loss that is usually temporary because in most cases it can be treated medically.
- Sensorial: it occurs when the cochlea is not functioning properly because the small hair cells that line its interior are damaged or destroyed. Depending on the degree of loss, a person may be able to hear most of the sounds (although more muted), only some sounds or none at all. Sensory hearing impairments are almost always permanent and can influence the child’s language and speech development.
- Mixed: a conductive and sensory loss simultaneously.
- Neural hearing loss (Hipoacusia neural): it occurs when there is a problem in the connection between the cochlea and the brain. Neural means relative to the nerves, so that in this type of hearing loss, the nerve that carries the sound information from the cochlea to the brain is damaged.
Once a hearing loss is diagnosed and confirmed, treatment depends on the type of loss and the age of the child at the time of diagnosis. It will be necessary to provide hearing aids that amplify the sounds or a cochlear implant that facilitates listening. The choice between one and the other depends on the specific loss of each child.
- Hearing aids: sends amplified sounds (through sound vibrations) from the eardrum and middle ear, to the inner ear or cochlea.
- Cochlear implant: a tiny electronic piece that is surgically implanted in the cochlea and plays the role of transforming sounds into electrical signals that directly stimulate the auditory nerve.
Family support is essential for the development and progress of every child.
Getting children fitted with devices or implants does not mean the hearing loss is completely solved. It is necessary to teach the child to recognize the sounds and interpret them through a detailed work in their hearing which is achieved through language therapies. The support, understanding and patience of parents is essential at all stages. To ensure the empowerment of the child it is important to detect and diagnose hearing loss at an early stage (before 2 years of age).
Contact us if you have questions about your hearing.