Childhood Deafness

Auditory Nerve

Childhood deafness is due to one of two causes: nerve deafness, which has to do with the hearing or auditory nerves in the brain, or conduction deafness, which has to do with the interruption in the transmission of sound waves from the outer to the inner ear, prior to the involvement of the auditory nerve as it carries the sound to the brain.

Nerve deafness is sometimes due to a congenital defect which can occur when the mother contracts German measles during the first trimester of her pregnancy. Other causes of nerve deafness include exposure to loud noise such as music played at a high volume, head injuries, and tumors.

A condition of conduction deafness can be simulated by putting your hands over your ears, or by stopping up the ear canal with wax or ear plugs. An inflammation of the ear canal can often cause the same effect.

Swimmer's Ear

Other causes of deafness include middle ear infections, inflammations of the throat and sinuses, and chronic inflammation of the adenoids and tonsils. Damage to the ear drum or water that stays in the ear canals after swimming can also contribute to developing deafness.

One type of hearing loss is known as glue ear and is often caused by middle ear infections.

Early recognition of childhood hearing impairment is crucial to your child's development and future ability to communicate with others. Newborn babies make noises even if they are profoundly deaf, so silence is not the symptom to expect. Instead, be on the watch for a lack of response to loud sounds such as a slamming door, a crying child, or the bark of a dog.

Sometimes a hearing issue goes unrecognized until your child goes to school at which point he will appear to be inattentive, receive poor marks, display a sense of insecurity, and present with behavioral problems such as hyperactivity.

If you suspect your child has a hearing loss, see your doctor straight away to get your child help as soon as possible. Any medical problems that might affect the ears should be dealt with as soon as possible. Examples of medical issues which require medical attention so as to prevent the possibility of your child developing deafness would include fever in a small infant unable to verbalize, and earaches or ear discharge. A timely trip to the doctor may prevent your child from developing a profound hearing loss.