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Hearing Loss in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.


Hearing loss

means your child has trouble hearing or he or she cannot hear at all in one or both ears. Hearing loss can happen suddenly or slowly over time.

Types of hearing loss:

  • Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a problem with your child's outer or middle ear. Sound waves cannot reach his or her inner ear. This type of hearing loss may be caused by earwax buildup, fluid, or a punctured ear drum. It can often be treated by correcting the cause of the problem.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to parts of the inner ear. There is usually no cure for sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Mixed hearing loss includes both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Central auditory processing hearing loss means your child's brain has trouble processing sounds correctly.
Ear Anatomy

Common signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Your baby may not notice sounds around him or her, such as a voice, a rattle shaking, or a loud noise.
  • Your child's speech does not seem normal for his or her age. Your child is old enough to talk, but he or she is not saying words yet.
  • Your child sits close to the TV with the volume up very high.
  • Your child watches the faces and lips of others closely when they speak.
  • Your child often asks you or others to repeat what was said.
  • Your child does not respond to someone when the person is not in clear view.

Call your child's doctor or audiologist if:

  • Your child has fluid, pus, or blood leaking from his or her ear.
  • Your child has sudden, severe hearing loss.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has ear pain that is getting worse.
  • Your child has ringing in his or her ears or dizziness that will not go away.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.


depends on the cause of your child's hearing loss. Removal of earwax or treatment for any medical conditions that have caused his hearing loss may be needed. Your child may need any of the following:

  • A hearing aid is a small device that fits inside your child's ear and helps him or her hear better. Your healthcare provider can help you choose a hearing aid that is right for your child.
    Types of Hearing Aids
  • A cochlear implant is a tiny device that is put into your child's cochlea (part of the inner ear) during surgery. This device can only be used for sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Assistive listening devices (ALDs) pick up sound and send it through earphones or a headset. ALDs can help your child hear better when he or she is in a place with background noise. Examples include classrooms, theaters, or auditoriums. ALDs can be used alone or with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
  • Surgery may be needed if your child's hearing loss is caused by otosclerosis. Surgery may also be done to place small tubes in your child's ear. These tubes help drain fluid and help prevent ear infections.
  • Therapy may be needed to help a young child learn to speak or communicate with sign language. Hearing loss can delay your child's speech and language development. You may also need to learn sign language so you can communicate with your child.

Manage your child's hearing loss:

  • Keep your child away from loud noises to help prevent more hearing loss. This includes fireworks, loud music, motorcycles, and power tools.
  • Face your child when you speak to him or her. When you are in a group setting, have your child sit where he or she can clearly see the faces of the people who are speaking. Ask people not to speak loudly or shout when they speak to your child. People should speak using their usual tone and volume.
  • Keep all appointments with your child's healthcare providers. Your child's hearing loss may change as he or she grows, so he or she will need regular appointments to check for changes.

Follow up with your child's doctor or audiologist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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