Hearing is an essential tool for children who learn, play and develop. Some children are born with hearing loss, while others may develop hearing loss over time. Unfortunately, even mild hearing loss can affect the way a child speaks, hears, and understands language. Diagnosing a hearing problem in toddlers can become increasingly difficult because they do not yet have the skills to properly explain their symptoms. Here are some common signs of hearing loss in toddlers and when to plan a visit to a pediatric audiologist.
- Does not respond to soft sounds
Infants with hearing loss may not respond if they hear quiet sounds such as whispering or a low voice. Consider the environment to see if your child can hear you or not. Are there excessive background noises or distractions? Also consider whether your toddler “is not listening”. Instead of asking if your toddler can hear you or not, ask if they want ice cream.
- Aren’t they surprising when they are exposed to loud noises?
Most young children jump, cry, or somehow mean that they are surprised when they are exposed to loud noises. If your toddler does not respond when there is a loud noise, it may be because they cannot hear the noise or that the noise is not so loud to them due to the noise.
- The source of the noise cannot be found
Children generally have the natural ability to use their hearing to focus on the source of the noise. When your toddler hears a sound, they should turn their head in the general direction of that sound within seconds. If your toddler behaves as if it can’t hear a sound or is looking aimlessly, make sure that the noise is due to some degree of hearing loss.
- Answer only in front of you
Most toddlers have communication skills, even if it’s a simple “yes” or “no” or even a nod up or down. Children with hearing loss may not respond to you when you speak unless they are facing you. You may also notice that your toddler looks attentively into people’s faces as they speak.
- Shows symptoms of other health problems
If the hearing loss is caused by a cold, flu, sinus infection, or other health problem, other symptoms may indicate hearing loss. Note if your child tugs by the ears, shows symptoms of a cold, suffers from chronic ear infections or is unusually in a bad mood.
If your child shows signs of hearing problems, it is important to quickly arrange a visit to a pediatric audiologist for a full assessment. A pediatric audiologist conducts tests to determine if and to what extent your child actually has hearing loss. If the diagnosis is correct, a treatment plan can be drawn up.