Parents, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Or just as likely, we’ve got questions and you’ve got answers.

Challenge: Open Discussion

What To Do If You Suspect Your Child Has a Hearing Problem

Vote up!
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email this article

As a parent, you always want what’s best for your children. It could be something you’ve noticed, or an observation made by a teacher but one thing is for sure: there is a possibility that your child has a hearing problem.

In many cases, this type of an ailment is uncharted territory. Sure, you’ve dealt with your fair share of colds, tummy aches and ear infections, but it’s not as routine for your kids to struggle to hear. In fact, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, somewhere between 2 and 3 out of every 1,000 children is affected by hearing loss. Although this statistic is smaller than average, it also means neither you nor your child is alone in finding a solution.

To make your journey to better hearing easier, here are some actionable steps you should take to seek a diagnosis and treatment:

Don’t Panic

In many cases, the detection of a hearing problem comes while a child is at school. Their teacher may notice a particular pupil has trouble paying attention, looks to classmates to imitate them, or answers questions with a completely unrelated response. For parents, this can be confusing, as their children appear to hear perfectly fine at home. But there are other factors — background noise, acoustics, etc. — that can affect the way your child listens and understands.

All this is to say that a hearing problem doesn’t mean your child will have to live a life in silence. They may just need a little boost to their pre-existing abilities. On top of that, an initial audio test by your child’s school may derive a completely different set of results than what your child will achieve at the doctor’s office. A bad day can affect their gusto while taking an exam, which means the initial results may not even be correct.

Know the Symptoms

Some symptoms of hearing loss are very clear, while others are more nuanced — knowing as many of them as possible will help you to realize if your child needs additional help with hearing. Aside from the previously mentioned school-based symptoms, your child might ask you to repeat yourself often or just check out of a conversation. They might also ask you to turn the TV up to a high volume or grab their ears and complain of a ringing sound.

Again, even these symptoms might not be indicative of an actual, ongoing hearing problem. But it’s worth knowing that they are common signs of an issue that you can remedy through medical attention and professional advice.

Speak to Your Child

Of course, you already have a great resource in deciphering your child’s hearing needs. Sit down and have a conversation with your son or daughter to see what they struggle with when it comes to hearing. You can ask questions of your own, too, so that you can find out if they’re having issues in class, at home or both. As a parent, it’s up to you to reassure your little one that there’s nothing wrong with having a hearing problem, but you have to know about it to make it better.

Schedule a Hearing Test

Chances are, you’ve had a basic hearing test before, so you know a little of what to expect for your child. In most cases, doctors will put your child in a pair of headphones and play beeping noises. Your child will raise a hand or otherwise signal when they hear a noise, sometimes pointing to the ear in which they heard the sound. This painless test will quickly show which, if either, ear is causing your child problems.

If further testing of your child’s middle ear is needed, this examination will be painless, too. But the additional insight allows your doctor to find out if there is any build-up in the ear that’s preventing hearing. It can also find perforations in the eardrum, which can mute sounds, too. Be sure that you find a doctor who specializes in hearing: you can easily locate online a trusted professional to conduct your child’s exam.

Find Out What’s Next

After your child’s exam, their doctor will be able to say whether or not your child has hearing loss; if they do, they can also tell you the degree to which the sense is muted. After that, you will probably receive a treatment plan or list of options that can help your child to improve their hearing immediately or over time. Perhaps hearing implants will do the trick, or sessions with a speech pathologist — it’s up to your doctor to help you choose the best methods. No matter what happens, you should be glad that you caught a potential obstacle for your child and did your best to ensure it was fixed. A lack of hearing can prevent development in so many different ways — the sooner you receive a professional diagnosis and treatment plan, the better off your child will be.

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.