It is always difficult for parents to receive bad news about their child’s health. Finding out that your child has hearing problems can make you react with grief, doubt and even denial. It is normal to react that way and we know it can be managed with the help of an ENT specialist in Singapore and of course, our loved ones.
In Singapore, 6 out of 10,000 children are born with hearing loss and 3,000 kids below 19 years of age suffer from hearing problems. That is why newborn hearing screening is implemented so that if the child has a hearing problem, it can be detected and treated as early as possible. A significant delay in the treatment may result in more damage in the child’s hearing, language, speech and educational development in the future.
Dr. Dennis Chua, an ENT specialist in Singapore, wants to educate parents on how to deal with their children’s hearing problems. This article from Dr. Chua will give you the necessary information and guidance about childhood hearing problems and how to deal with them.
What are the causes of hearing problems in children?
1. Otitis media with Effusion
Otitis media with effusion is a common condition in infants and young children. Most of my patients with this condition are 3 years old and below. It is an inflammation in the middle of the ear associated with fluid buildup. The Eustachian tube (connects the middle ear to the back of the nose) of children is smaller and still immature that it cannot drain out the fluid from the middle ear. Often, there are conditions such as large adenoids or infections that block the passage and worsen the problem. Otitis media effusion can cause permanent hearing loss and can affect the speech and language development of the child if not treated.
This condition is relatively painless and can sometimes be missed. Aside from chronic fluid drainage from the ear, here are some signs of otitis media with effusion:
- Unexplained irritability
- Scratching or pulling the ears
- Setting the volume higher than usual
- Misunderstanding directions
I always inform the parents of my patients about the causes of their child’s condition so that it can be prevented in the future. Here’s a list of causes why Eustachian tube swells:
- Respiratory infections
- Enlarged adenoids
- Drinking while lying on the back for bottle-fed babies
- Irritants like cigarette smoke
Preventing fluid buildup can help prevent ear infections and prevention starts at home, especially in the child’s surroundings. Treatment can vary depending on the severity of the condition. But mostly I prescribe nasal decongestants to help drain the fluid out and antibiotics for sinus infections, as well as over-the-counter pain relievers if the child feels pain or discomfort.
It is a hearing problem or hearing loss present at birth. It can be either hereditary or due to other factors present in-utero (prenatal) or at the time of birth.
For hereditary cases, there’s a 50% probability that it will be passed on to the child if one parent carries a dominant gene for a hearing problem. There is a higher probability if both parents have the gene. Also, illness or infections during pregnancy, maternal diabetes, premature birth or toxins consumed by mother during pregnancy can cause hearing problems.
3. Acquired causes
Acquired hearing problems appear at any point after birth as a result of disease or injury and can be caused by:
- Infections like mumps, meningitis or measles
- Serious head injury
- Exposure to loud noise
- Untreated otitis media
- Exposure to irritants like cigarette smoke or toxins
The treatment depends on the severity and cause of the hearing problem of your child. If it is mild, prescriptions of over-the-counter medicines like antibiotic ear drops or nasal decongestants are enough to treat it. But if there are complications or it is congenital, then other hearing treatments like hearing aids, cochlear implants or speech and language therapy might be needed.
How will you know if your child has hearing problems?
This is the question frequently asked by parents. Common signs of hearing problems in children may include:
- Not responding to noise or when the name is called (for babies 3 months and up)
- Poor, limited or no speech
- Difficulty learning
- Talk too loudly
- Volume always turned up high
- Incorrect pronunciation of words
- Complain of a ringing sound in their ears
As a parent, you will feel and know if there is something wrong with your child. If you have any doubts about your child’s hearing, do not hesitate to have them tested. The test depends on the age, health status and development of the child. I usually do a hearing assessment to my patients to determine the cause of the hearing problem so that proper treatment can be applied. I also advise parents not to apply any medications without consultation because it might worsen the problem.
If you see any signs of hearing problems in your children, seek consultation right away. Delay in assessing and treating the hearing problem may cause complications and can lead to permanent hearing loss. If you are looking for an ENT specialist in Singapore, you can set a consultation with Dr. Dennis Chua. He is one of the top pediatric ENT specialists in Singapore that can help you with your child’s hearing problem.
Dr Dennis Chua
3 Mount Elizabeth, #08-02 Medical Centre,
+65 6235 3886