Toddler Hearing Test at Home
Hearing is a critical aspect of a child’s social and emotional growth. Even mild hearing loss can impact the way a child’s speech and language develop. However, when caught early and treatment is started, the impact can be minimal on long-term development.
Causes of Toddler Hearing Loss
Almost half of the time, no cause is found when it comes to hearing loss in toddlers. A newborn hearing screening can identify most hearing loss in babies. Some cases of hearing loss with a baby don’t happen until after the initial hearing screening at birth.
These scenarios can make it more likely a child experiences hearing loss:
- premature birth
- stayed in the NICU with birth complications
- relatives have childhood hearing loss (genetic hearing loss)
- certain medications with side effects
- high bilirubin level that needs a blood transfusion (infants with jaundice)
- untreated middle-ear infections
- certain infections such as meningitis
- exposure to loud noises
Treatment for hearing loss is most effective when started before the child is 6 months old and their language skills start to develop. The signs of hearing loss are often not noticed until the child is older. Routine hearing tests should be done at regular doctor visits but these are usually at 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10 years old.
This may leave you wondering about how well your toddler is hearing.
There are a few key hearing milestones to look for as your child grows at these months of age:
Newborn: startling with sudden loud noises
3 months: recognizing parents voices
6 months: turning their head towards a sound
1 year: repeating and imitating sounds
18 months: understanding simple phrases
24 months: 200-300 word spoken vocabulary; adults who are not with the child regularly can understand their words
Symptoms of Hearing Loss in Children
Delayed or absent language development is the strongest clue indicating hearing loss in children. Other signs of hearing loss as your child grows may be:
- limited or absent speech
- slow to learn new things
- wants the TV turned up
- frustrated when a conversation happens in a noisy environment
- doesn’t pay attention or respond to his or her name
If you notice any of these behaviors in your child, it is important to get their hearing checked out by a hearing specialist.
At-Home Hearing Tests For Children
When you start to wonder about your toddler’s hearing, it may be tempting to try and find answers with an at-home hearing test. The problem with this is there is a whole spectrum of hearing loss and different types of hearing loss. Depending on the degree of hearing loss, the test would look different.
A professional has the resources and tools to test for the whole spectrum. At-home hearing tests don’t accurately test for the various pitches that your child could be missing from normal hearing.
If you inaccurately conclude that your child does not have hearing loss, they will be missing out on the opportunity for early intervention. Not getting treatment for hearing loss will have a big impact on their social and emotional development.
There is no reason to search for online hearing tests. If your child is experiencing any of the signs of hearing loss that we mentioned, then they have failed the natural hearing evaluation of everyday life.
Early Intervention is Key
There are a variety of options when it comes to hearing in children. With so many different levels of hearing loss, the treatment plan for each child would vary drastically.
Types of treatment for children with hearing loss:
- hearing aids
- cochlear implants (profound hearing loss)
- surgical treatment
- special education and speech therapy
Once you get your child tested at a hearing center, you will have professionals to help you in deciding the best treatment plan for your child.
Types of Hearing Loss in Toddlers
There are three main types of hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss is common in children and can be temporary. Sensorineural hearing loss is usually permanent. The third type of hearing loss is called mixed. This is when the hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural.
Conductive Hearing Loss
We hear when noise travels through the outer ear into the ear canal and reaches the inner ear. Conductive hearing loss happens when a sound becomes partially or fully blocked in the middle or outer ear. This is often temporary hearing loss.
Common causes of conductive hearing loss:
- fluid buildup behind the eardrum from multiple ear infections
- wax blocking the ear canal
- abnormal formation of ear bones
- issues with the eardrum
- a foreign object stuck in the ear canal
This type of hearing loss can be improved with medical procedures. If the blockage is removed, then the hearing will likely return to normal.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This type of hearing loss is due to damage to the inner ear or the nerves inside the inner ear. With normal hearing, there are hair cells and nerves that process and carry sound to the brain. With sensorineural hearing loss, the brain never gets the message from the transmission of sound.
Common causes of sensorineural hearing loss:
- exposure to loud noises
- mother’s infection during pregnancy
- certain infections in the child
- certain medicines
- premature birth
Sensorineural hearing loss is usually permanent. Treatment will probably include a device to maximize your child’s hearing ability. This may be a hearing aid, cochlear implant, or assistive listening device (ALD).
An ALD is used for school-age children when you can give the teacher a microphone that plays through a speaker at the child’s desk or through a device they wear. This high-quality hearing assistance helps with the distracting background noise that occurs in school.
Your toddler is developing social skills and connections with the world around them. Any sign of hearing loss is your opportunity to act. Southwestern Hearing Centers will help you gain peace of mind that you are doing everything you can for your child. There is nothing wrong with getting your child tested just to be safe. In fact, every parent should get their child tested regardless of worry.
Unnoticed and untreated hearing loss will have long-term effects on a child so don’t hesitate to reach out and get the professional hearing care your child needs.