Learn About Hearing Loss
Types of Hearing Loss
- Conductive hearing loss- In many cases this type of hearing loss can be treated medically. This type of hearing loss is caused by an issue in the outer or middle ear with normal inner ear function.
- Sensorineural hearing loss- The type of hearing loss is often considered to be permanent. It is caused by an issue in the inner ear.
- Mixed hearing loss- This hearing loss is caused by an issue in either the outer or middle ear AND the inner ear.
- Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD)- This is a more rare cause of hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is caused by an issue in the transmission of the auditory signal from the inner ear to the auditory nerve and/or from the nerve to the brain.
Degrees of Hearing loss
- Slight/minimal hearing loss– Should not significantly impact a child’s ability to hear conversational speech however they may experience difficulty hearing soft speakers, especially at a distance.
- Mild hearing loss– Should still have access to a majority of conversational speech sounds however they may appear to hear inconsistently and will struggle more with soft or distant speakers and in background noise.
- Moderate hearing loss– Will likely have obvious difficulty hearing conversational speech especially in more challenging listening situations. They will likely struggle to understand what is said when visual cues are reduced. They may also have difficulty with their own speech development.
- Moderately-severe hearing loss- Will have obvious difficulty hearing conversational speech. Their own speech development is likely to be affected. They will struggle to hear in challenging listening situations and when there are reduced visual cues. They will also likely not hear some environmental sounds.
- Severe hearing loss– Will not hear conversational speech or many environmental sounds. Without intervention, children with this degree of hearing loss will have significant difficulty developing speech.
- Profound hearing loss– Will not hear conversational speech or most environmental sounds. They will rely heavily on visual cues for understanding. Even with intervention, they will likely still need visual input in order to communicate successfully.
Common Causes of Hearing Loss
- Fluid or significant pressure in the middle ear
- Cerumen (wax) impaction
- Syndromes associated with hearing loss
- Infections that occur during pregnancy (ex. CMV)
- Family history of hearing loss in childhood
- Extended NICU stay
- Craniofacial anomalies (i.e. absence of the outer ear or ear canal)
- History of chemotherapy or other ototoxic medications
- Unknown cause
Risks of Untreated Hearing Loss
- Difficulty communicating
- Speech/language delays
- Educational delays
- Listening fatigue
- Feelings of isolation