Protecting your child’s hearing
RAPID CITY, S.D. — Congenital hearing loss is not common in children, but the world is a loud place and hearing loss can begin at any age. From persistent ear infections to concerts to constant headphone use, there are several things parents can watch for to ensure their child’s hearing will last them for the rest of their life.
Cassandra Garver, hearing instrument specialist and owner of Lifetime Hearing Solutions has seen the effects of childhood hearing impairment in her adult patients. Simply preparing for loud environments like concerts or workshops can protect a person’s hearing for their entire life. Parents can turn to products like HearMuffs to protect a child’s ears from loud noises. While loud environments should be considered and planned for, it is not the only factor that can affect a child’s hearing.
The most common hearing danger kids face daily is their own headphones and earbuds. There are several kid-friendly headphones that have a built-in volume limit, but at some point, children will outgrow these safe options, and from then on, parental intervention might be needed.
“I remember telling my kids that if I can hear their music, it is too loud,” Garver said. According to the CDC, half of the children and teens in the United States listen to music and other audio too loud.
Another complication many parents know all too well is an ear infection. Garver says young children are more susceptible to ear infections thanks to the size and shape of their ear canal. Without the “S” curve that forms later in life, children’s ear canals do not always drain properly, leading to fluid and wax buildup and infection.
No matter the cause or severity, a child’s life can be permanently impacted by hearing loss. “Frequent ear infections growing up can affect more than just hearing,” Garver warns. “Children who cannot hear well growing up can have difficulties learning to speak.” Learning sounds, vocabulary and sentence structure can be delayed by any hearing impairment and affect a child’s education at home and school.
Frequent and troublesome ear infections can be treated with a simple surgical insertion of a tiny tube directly into the eardrum. These tubes allow for proper ventilation from the middle ear and eventually fall out on their own after six to nine months.
Garver recommends that parents have their child’s ears examined at the first sign of hearing difficulty – the earlier you catch it the better.