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How Do I Know If My Child Has a Hearing Problem?

It’s often difficult to spot hearing loss in children, and it can sometimes be mistaken for stubborn or ‘naughty’ behaviour. Maybe you’ve been getting frustrated with your child for not responding when you call them, or noticed that they keep saying ‘what’ or ‘huh’ all the time. 

Although these habits can be perfectly normal in children, they can also be signs of an issue with their hearing. Here we discuss some common symptoms of hearing loss, the possible causes, and what you should do if you are concerned. 


What are the signs of hearing loss in children?

Babies are routinely screened for their hearing, but nursery or school age children are sometimes overlooked. If you are worried, some common symptoms to look out for include: 

  • Talking loudly
  • Having the volume on the TV turned up high
  • Not replying when you say your child’s name
  • Struggling to follow conversations
  • Poor concentration
  • Difficulties with reading and learning 
  • Changes in behaviour; getting frustrated or withdrawn
  • Mispronouncing words
  • Looking intently at you when you’re talking to them


What are the causes of hearing loss in children?

There are many reasons why your child may not be able to hear properly. Some children’s conditions that cause hearing loss are temporary, and go away on their own, while others may require treatment with antibiotics, routine surgery or more long-term management. 

Common causes can include: 


Glue ear

This is a condition where the middle ear fills with fluid and often causes issues with hearing in young children. Glue ear often gets better by itself, but if not, it can be treated using a simple surgical procedure. A tiny tube – known as a grommet – is inserted in the ear to drain the fluid. The grommet falls out naturally over the course of a few months as your child’s ear gets better. 

If your child has glue ear, an ENT specialist will monitor their condition and advise on whether the condition is likely to resolve on its own, or if surgery is needed. It’s therefore important to see a doctor as soon as you notice any problems with your child’s hearing, so that they can manage the condition safely and effectively. 


Ear infections

Ear infections are extremely common among children and can cause symptoms such as pain, high temperature or temporary hearing loss. Luckily, they can usually be treated with a simple course of antibiotics, 

However, untreated ear infections can spread and cause more permanent damage to your child’s hearing, so it is always a good idea to see your GP or ENT specialist as soon as you notice any signs of an infection. 


Hearing loss from birth

In some cases, hearing loss may be present from birth – this could be due to an inherited condition, which prevents the hearing organs or nerves from working properly. 

Alternatively complications during pregnancy or birth - such as a serious infection or lack of oxygen - can cause hearing loss. Other factors can include childhood infections such as meningitis or measles, or suffering a serious head injury. 


What should I do if I think my child has a problem with their hearing?

Understanding the cause is important in finding the right treatment for your child, and our team of ENT and audiology specialists can help diagnose your child’s exact condition and work out the best options for managing it. 

They may suggest having a hearing test – serious hearing problems during childhood are rare, but early testing will make sure that any problems are picked up quickly and managed effectively. 

Here at The Hearing Clinic Kensington, our team of paediatric audiologists are all highly experienced in treating children with both straightforward and complex hearing conditions. They will look after your child with individual care and attention and make sure that you have all the information you need about any treatment options. 


Visiting our London clinic

If you are concerned about your child’s hearing and would like to book a hearing test or an appointment with one of our Consultant ENT or audiology specialists, please call 020 7244 4200.