Hearing Health

Types of hearing loss in children

Sound Storm character art of Sun the sailor.

Conductive hearing loss

This type of hearing loss occurs when there is a problem with the sound travelling through the outer or middle ear. It can be caused by: wax build up, fluid buildup behind the eardrum (often as a result of repeated ear infections), damage to the eardrum, abnormal bone growth, or an object stuck in the ear canal, such as food or a toy part.

Conductive hearing loss is often temporary and may be improved with medical or surgical procedures. Once the problem is taken care of, hearing often returns to normal.

Sensorineural hearing loss

This is the most common type of hearing loss and it is permanent. It happens when there is a problem in the inner ear (cochlea) or with the connection from the inner ear to the brain (auditory nerve).

It is often present from birth, but can also be caused by: overexposure to loud noise, fluid build up, certain medicines, viruses, head trauma and ageing. It may be mild, moderate, severe or profound and it can affect a child's ability to talk normally. In many cases, sensorineural hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids or cochlear implants.

Mixed hearing loss

This is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. It commonly occurs when the ear sustains some sort of trauma. It can also happen gradually over time when one hearing loss is compounded by another.

Treatment will depend on whether the loss is more sensorineural or conductive in nature. If it is more conductive, surgical procedures and other medical treatments might be most effective. If it is more sensorineural, hearing aids or implantable devices may be the best option.

Listening difficulties in noise

This hearing difficulty can occur despite a person showing normal hearing on a hearing test chart (audiogram). It may be easy for them to hear in quiet spaces, but difficult to hear in noisy environments such as a classroom or restaurant. Listening difficulties in noise can be caused by several things, including (but not limited to): Auditory Processing Disorders (APDs), developmental delays, attention deficit disorder, and less familiarity with language.

Find out more about Auditory Processing Disorders and how it can effect your child.
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Mother talking to her son.