A child’s hearing ability can be affected by genetic issues, illness, head injuries, loud noise, infections or brain damage.
Deafness in Children
About 100 children in Ireland are born deaf every year (two per week), according to the National Audiology Review (2011). In the wider population, about 17% of people have some hearing loss. Your audiologist will explain what sounds your child hears, and doesn’t hear.
Tests are run without hearing devices, for example a hearing-aid or cochlear implant, if your child has these.
Hearing Loss Thresholds
Hearing loss can occur anywhere in the auditory (hearing) system. Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
Terms and Hearing Loss in Decibels
|Hearing Loss||Decibel Level||Impact On Hearing/Speech|
|None (Typical)||0-20 dB||Sounds are heard across the full range of pitches and frequencies.|
|Mild||21-40 dB||Faint/distant sounds are tricky to detect.|
|Moderate||41-70 dB||Speech needs to be loud. Language and vocabulary use are limited.|
|Severe||71-95 dB||Loud voices are heard near ear. Vowels are easier to hear than consonants.|
|Profound||96+ dB||Sounds detected mainly by vibrations. Speech & language need work to develop.|
Source: National Audiology Review, 2011
The two main types of hearing loss are:
1) Conductive Hearing Loss
This loss may be temporary and occurs when sound vibrations from the outer or middle ear are blocked from reaching the inner ear.
Causes: middle-ear infections, a perforated eardrum, earwax in the ear canal, unusual bone growth (otosclerosis), fluid in the middle ear (called “glue ear” in children) or head injury.
2) Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This loss is permanent and occurs in the pathway from the inner ear (including the cochlea) to the nerve fibres linking the inner ear to the brain.
Causes: acoustic trauma (loud noise), head injury, stroke, mumps, meningitis, genetic issues, Meniere’s disease, brain or auditory nerve tumour or multiple sclerosis.
Is my child deaf? Signs that a child may be deaf/hard-of-hearing
What are Audiograms?
Audiograms are charts that record the results from some types of hearing test. They show how loud a sound has to be, before your child will hear it (without hearing-aids). Separate audiograms will be completed for the left and right ears. This is because your child may be deaf in one ear (unilateral loss) or in both ears (bilateral loss).
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