Types of hearing loss in children
Learn more about the different types of hearing loss, how each can affect your child and how they can be treated.
When considering the solutions that could help your child, it’s important to take into account all the options and opportunities. Hearing aids can help most children with mild to moderate hearing loss. However for children with a conductive hearing loss or severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss, even the most powerful and advanced hearing aids may not help. When this is the case, an implantable solution may be a good option for your child.
What type of hearing loss does your child have?
This type of loss is caused by a blockage in the outer or middle ear. Hearing aids will have to increase the loudness to force sound through this blockage to the inner ear and this may cause the sound to become distorted and unclear. Some children are also born without an ear canal, making hearing aids impossible to use. Baha® bone conduction implants are an established, effective and long-term solution for conductive hearing loss. The Baha System converts sound to vibrations that are sent to the inner ear through the bone, bypassing any blockage in the outer or middle ear. This is a natural way of hearing and much of the sound your child hear every day, like its own voice, is heard partly via the same phenomenon. Your child may get a clearer sound with less distortion compared to a hearing aid, as the Baha System bypasses the blockage in the outer or middle ear.
Sensorineural hearing loss in both ears
Although it’s sometimes referred to as ‘nerve deafness’, sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the inner ear or cochlea, not the hearing nerve. Hearing aids amplify sound, but for children with a severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss, the amplified input will often sound very distorted. A cochlear implant is an established, effective and long-term solution for children with profound sensorineural hearing loss. It is an electronic device that is surgically implanted - so it bypasses the damaged inner part of the ear to stimulate the hearing nerve directly. Unlike hearing aids, cochlear implants don’t make sounds louder. They convert sound waves to electrical impulses and send them to the inner ear in a way that mimics natural hearing. This is why cochlear implants can give children with severe to profound hearing loss the real ability to hear sounds and better understand speech.
Sensorineural hearing loss in one ear
Profound hearing loss on one side is also called single-sided deafness (SSD). Some children are born with SSD, or it can be triggered by factors such as illnesses, trauma and exposure to loud noises. Left untreated, this limited ability to discern sounds can impact on your child’s progress at school. It may delay development of their vital language and speech skills1, which can in turn lead to learning and behavioural problems2. Cochlear implants and Baha bone conduction implants can be an effective treatment for children with SSD. They can help to improve a child’s speech understanding - making it easier for them to engage with their schoolwork and communicate with their teachers and classmates.
When should I act?
When considering the solutions that could help your child, it’s important to take into account all the options and opportunities. But remember that every moment counts, whatever solution you decide on. Early intervention gives your child the best chance of developing their critical speech, language and communication skills.
Who should I talk to?
A health professional can talk you through the options that are right for your child and help you make the most informed decision. If you don’t already have someone to speak to, we can help you find a clinic close to you. When helping your child’s journey towards hearing, the most important thing is to have all the information.
Please seek advice from your health professional about treatments for hearing loss. Outcomes may vary, and your health professional will advise you about the factors which could affect your outcome. Always read the instructions for use. Not all products are available in all countries. Please contact your local Cochlear representative for product information.
- Lieu JEC et.al. Unilateral hearing loss is associated with worse speech-language scores in children. Paediatrics 2010; 125 (6):1348-55.
- Felinger J et.al. The impact of language skills on mental health in teenagers with hearing impairment. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2009; 120: 153-59.