Does Your Child Have a Hearing Problem?
Unlikely right?Not really.Hearing problem is the top cause of the sensory deficit.It also ranks as the second commonest disability in India. Four in every 1000 children are suffering from severe to profound hearing loss.That’s, not a good number.That’s also only half the story.
Also, that’s only half the story.
There are unfortunately few government centers for teaching the hearing challenged and rehabilitation.The even bigger problem the awareness level for early detection and treatment is woefully lacking.
When the child hears, the sound signal is carried to the brain via nerves. The brain on receiving the sound makes it understandable and coordinates with the speech centres for the needful.If the brain receives no or low sound, speech is difficult and may be impossible.Even if the speech mechanism is working fine, they never speak.t
The brain doesn’t know what to speak!It has never heard you see!We learn languages by hearing and understanding.For a hearing challenged brain, it simphealthwealthbridge.com/cochlear-implantwhat-you-need-to-know-part1ly doesn’t know.
WHO survey about causes of hearing loss
- Ear wax: reversible hearing loss.
- Middle ear infections
- Genetic causes, congenital hearing loss: About 50% of all cases of congenital hearing loss are due to environmental factors, congenital hyperbilirubinemia, ototoxic medication exposure, neonatal hypoxia, viral infections, and meningitis. Rest 50% are genetic causes.
Children having birth trauma, maternal TORCH infection(Toxoplasmosis, Rubella, Cytomegalovirus, Herpes can all cause severe congenital hearing loss)
3 Things you should know about hearing loss in children
Early detection is very important.
If a child suffers from severe neonatal jaundice, with Neonatal intensive care unit admission, meningitis , other traumatic birth events, are all risk factors for hearing loss.
The family history of the similar problem, in parents or in another sibling to be ruled out.Consanguinity is also an important factor to be kept in mind .Especially for hereditary and genetic causes.
How is early detection possible?
- At the hospital during NICU admission
- At the high-risk baby clinic
- Child development clinic
- At home with high level of suspicion
It may be done with the screening bedside Otoacoustic emission testing.If this shows abnormality a BERA test (brain stem evoke audiometry )done.Both these tests are non-invasive with no discomfort to the child and helps to identify whether sound waves are reaching the brain.
At home, parents need to be aware: How can you know?
- Does she startle on hearing a loud sound?
- Does the doorbell wake her up?
- Whether baby turns head toward your voice(at 8 to 12 weeks)
BERA test: Studies recommend at least six months as the earliest age when results will help us .By 9 months we can be sure that there’s a problem.
- Treatment options for hearing loss
The isolated hearing loss in children has excellent chances of rehabilitation.Cochlear Implant can restore the gift of sound, to both congenital hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss due to other causes.
Hearing loss due to middle ear infections will need ear surgeries for removing ear infections.Hearing rehabilitation in these cases can be through surgery, hearing aid.Cochlear implant in these cases is also considered.Ear wax is easily cleaned using ear drops as prescribed by your ENT specialist.
A hearing aid helps in augmenting hearing in children.This is important.If the hearing is not augmented, the remaining hearing may suffer untimely damage.Disuse atrophy for nerves is a real danger.So never delay.The magic is in the timing of intervention.
Do not delay and avoid indigenous experiments.This only serves to delay the process.The brain has maximal plasticity till 2 years to 1000 days. To some extent, up to 7 years of age.The quicker we diagnose and rehabilitate, the better it is.Rehabilitation needs a lot of patience.It’s not magic, but prayers always help.
Some problems which make this a challenge:
Parents find out too late.The child already around 2 to 3 years, when parent start worrying about speech delay.The best way to avoid the loss of golden time is universal screening at birth.That’s the best way to catch the problem early and help them.
There’s simply no other better way to fight this highly rehabilitable condition.Remember timely treatment is worth its weight in gold.It can help a child live a beautiful life.
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