Learn About Pediatric ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) Health, Part 1

Photo of Brandy Straface, physician assistant at United Hospital Center.

Recommended by Brandy Straface, physician assistant at United Hospital Center.

Discover the causes and symptoms of pediatric hearing loss and learn about treatment options with Brandy Straface, physician assistant at United Hospital Center.

1). What Causes Pediatric Hearing Loss?

There are two types of hearing loss: nerve hearing loss (also called sensorineural hearing loss – SNHL) and conductive hearing loss.

Nerve hearing loss is permanent and can be caused by various factors, including:

  • Genetic factors
  • Infection (such as meningitis or Congenital Cytomegalovirus – CMV)
  • Head trauma
  • Noise trauma
  • Anatomic abnormalities
  • Certain medications

In some instances, the cause for nerve hearing loss is unknown.

Conductive hearing loss, on the other hand, is often temporary. This experience is caused by fluid in the middle ear or an eardrum or hearing bones abnormality. As noted by the CDC, medicine or surgery can treat temporary hearing loss.

In children and adults, ear infections occur in the middle ear, leaving fluid behind and causing temporary obstruction of sound. Children may experience fluid in the middle ear if there is an issue with their Eustachian tube – the tube from the nose to the ear.

How can one prevent hearing loss? Wearing ear protection at loud events, avoiding loud noises, and steering clear of head trauma will help prevent initial and worsening hearing loss.

2). What are the Symptoms to look for concerning pediatric hearing loss?

Some symptoms of pediatric hearing loss include:

  • Speech and language delay
  • Not babbling, or babbling has stopped
  • By 12 months, does not understand simple phrases such as “wave bye-bye” or “clap hands”
  • By two years old, should have 50 words and put two words together
  • Not turning head in the direction of a sound
  • Difficulties in school

3). What Are the Treatment Options?

If you suspect your child may be experiencing hearing loss, the first step is to make an appointment with your doctor. The earlier that hearing loss is diagnosed, the sooner appropriate treatment can be discussed and implemented to help your child hear and speak as well as possible.

Various tests are used when determining a diagnosis of hearing loss. These tests vary based on a child’s age. Tests include:

  • OAE (otoacoustic emission) test
  • ABR (auditory brainstem response) test
  • Audiogram (standard hearing test)
  • tympanometry (checks eardrum function)

When temporary hearing loss is at hand, your doctor may be able to correct the hearing loss by removing earwax, performing outpatient ear tube placement, or advising other medical treatment.

Tools are available that can help with permanent hearing loss, such as hearing aids, bone-anchored hearing aids, FM systems, and cochlear implants. In addition to an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist, or otolaryngologist, children with permanent hearing loss should be seen by other specialists, including an eye doctor (ophthalmologist), in some cases a heart doctor (cardiologist), and a genetics doctor. It is essential to also consider speech therapy as soon as a diagnosis is made.

If you have further questions or need to make an appointment, please contact UHC ENT and Audiology at 681-342-3570. Discover more information on UHC ENT at https://uhcspecialties.com/ear-nose-throat/.

Please note, the information provided throughout this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and video, on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. If you are experiencing related symptoms, please visit your doctor or call 9-1-1 in an emergency.