Hearing is a critical tool for children as they learn, play, and develop. Some children are born with hearing impairments, while others may develop hearing loss over time.
Unfortunately, even mild hearing loss can affect the way that a child speaks, hears, and understands language. Diagnosing a hearing problem in toddlers can be increasingly difficult, as they do not yet possess the skills to properly explain their symptoms. Here’s a look at some common signs of hearing loss in toddlers and when you should schedule a visit to a pediatric audiologist.
1. Does not respond to soft sounds
Toddlers with hearing loss may not respond when he hears soft sounds, such as a whisper or a low voice. When determining whether or not your child is hearing you or not, consider the environment. Is there excessive background noise or distractions? Also, consider if your child is “choosing” not to listen. Instead of asking whether or not your toddler can hear you, ask if he or she wants some ice cream.
2. Are they not startled when exposed to loud noises?
Most young kids will jump, cry, or in some way signify that they are startled when exposed to loud noises. If your toddler fails to react when a loud noise is present, it may be because he or she is unable to hear the noise or the noise is not as loud to him or her due to the hearing loss.
3. Cannot locate the source of sounds
Children usually have the natural ability to use their hearing to turn towards the source of a noise. If your child hears a sound, he or she should turn their head in the general direction of that sound within seconds. If your toddler acts as if he or she didn’t hear the sound or looks around aimlessly, unsure of where the noise originated, some level of hearing loss may be present.
4. Only responds when facing you
Most toddlers have some communication skills, even if it’s a simple “yes” or “no,” or even a nod of the head up or down. Children with hearing loss may not respond to you when you speak unless he or she if facing towards you. You may also notice that your child carefully watches the faces of people when speaking.
Displays symptoms of other health issues which lead to hearing loss
If the hearing loss is caused by a cold, flu, sinus infection, or other health condition, other symptoms may point to hearing loss. Take note if your child pulls at his or her ears, presents with cold symptoms, suffers from chronic ear infections, or is unusually cranky.
If your toddler shows signs of hearing problems, it’s important to promptly schedule a visit with a pediatric audiologist for a full evaluation. A pediatric audiologist will run tests to determine whether or not your child is indeed experiencing hearing loss, and if so, to what degree. With a proper diagnosis, a treatment plan can then be created.