When you talk to your child, does he seem to just be ignoring you, or is his hearing a real cause for concern?
Detecting any possible hearing problems in older children can be difficult to identify as their speech skills are already developed.
Although he may have passed his hearing tests as a baby, the Department of Otolaryngology Singapore General Hospital (SGH) says that it may occur later on in life and be can be caused by infections or other factors.
Here is a useful guide of the warning signs parents should watch out for to make sure your little ones’ hearing is in the clear.
Complains of hearing difficulties
The best cue to take is your child being the one to actually tell you that she is experiencing some difficulty in hearing.
She herself might notice that she struggles to understand what people are saying to her, speaks differently from other children her age, has problems articulating certain words, or constantly misunderstands questions and instructions given to her.
If you suspect that your child may have a hearing impairment, it is crucial that you schedule an appointment with an ear specialist and arrange for a hearing test.
Learning problems in school
Image source: iStock
Hearing is critical to a child’s speech and language development, communication, learning and academic achievement.
A study in Singapore by the Ministry of Health shows that children who had received late intervention for their congenital hearing loss generally fared more poorly in their Primary Six Leaving Examinations than their normal-hearing peers.
If your child is not doing very well in school and his teacher notices that he has difficulty listening or keeping up with others in the class, then it would be a good idea to get his hearing checked out professionally.
Frequently asking others to repeat themselves or talk louder
Are the words, “what?” and “huh?” being used quite frequently in a day by your child when someone talks to her? This may be a sign that she has difficulty hearing them.
If your child has a hearing problem, the earlier it is identified and given intervention, the better the outcome for her future.
Should you have concerns any about your child’s hearing, speech or language development, be sure to discuss them with her doctor as soon as possible.
Pain and discharge from ears
Image source: iStock
Ear infections are quite common during childhood and many kids will have at least one acute ear infection by the time they turn one year old.
Sometimes children might also get fluid in their middle ear but won’t necessarily have an infection – however, if the fluid is present for a prolonged time, it can potentially lead to hearing loss.
Although ear infections can be treated with antibiotics, or the fluid will eventually drain away on its own, it is best to have follow-up appointments with your child’s doctor to monitor the situation.
Talks too loudly
Most children are so full of energy and enthusiasm that they don’t realise they are talking much to loud.
However, if this occurs often and it seems like your child is unable to control her volume, then it might be a good idea to schedule a hearing evaluation to rule out any hearing problems.
Other causes of hearing loss in children may include having a foreign object (such as the tip of a cotton bud, or a bead) stuck in their ear canal, or excess mucus caused by a recent cold.
Asks to turn up the volume of television or media devices
Image source: iStock
Does your child like to listen to loud music on his headphones or stand close to the television while watching his favourite cartoon with the volume on full blast?
Dr Barrie Tan Yau Boon, Consultant and Head, Department of Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose & Throat) at SGH warns that “Listening to high-decibel music for prolonged hours may cause sensorineural hearing loss. With each exposure to loud music, the tiny hair cells or nerve endings in the inner ear or cochlea may become damaged.”
If everyone else in the family finds the volume of the television or media device to be quite loud, yet your child still prefers it at that level, then it may be a sign of possible hearing loss.
No reaction to loud noises
If the door suddenly slams shut or out of nowhere a truck sounds its horn, does your child get startled or automatically reacts by turning towards the direction of the loud noise?
If your answer is no, then this could be an indication that she has a hearing problem and should seek medical treatment immediately.
Sometimes other people may be the ones to notice signs of hearing loss in a someone before they notice it themselves, so it is important that parents remain vigilant.
Ringing in ears (Tinnitus)
The most common cause of tinnitus is inner ear cell damage – tiny, delicate hairs in your inner ear move in relation to the pressure of sound waves, which helps to send an electrical signal to your brain.
If these hairs inside your inner ear are damaged, they can “leak” random electrical impulses to your brain, causing tinnitus, which is a strange ringing, buzzing or whistling sound in the ears.
This can be caused by exposure to loud noises, excessive earwax blockage, ear bone changes, and head or neck injuries.
Remember that it is important for parents to watch for these warning signs and bring your child to seek professional medical help should you suspect he has hearing problems, as the early intervention will help him in the long-run.