Understanding childhood hearing loss: diagnosis and treatment options

Hearing loss in children can have significant implications for their development and quality of life. As a parent or caregiver, it's crucial to understand the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for childhood hearing loss. In this guide, we'll explore everything you need to know about hearing loss in children.

Causes of childhood hearing loss:

Childhood hearing loss can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired (developed after birth). Common causes include:

  1. Genetic factors
  2. Maternal infections during pregnancy, such as rubella or cytomegalovirus (cmv)
  3. Birth complications, including premature birth or low birth weight
  4. Exposure to loud noises or medications that can affect hearing
  5. Infections such as meningitis or ear infections (otitis media) causing glue ear

Symptoms of childhood hearing loss:

The signs of hearing loss in children may vary depending on the severity and type of hearing impairment. Common symptoms include:

  1. Delayed speech and language development
  2. Difficulty understanding speech, especially in noisy environments
  3. Failure to respond to sounds or voices
  4. Difficulty following directions or conversations
  5. Increased volume when listening to the television or electronic devices
Mother helping her son with his Hearing Aid


Diagnosing childhood hearing loss typically involves a combination of screening tests and diagnostic evaluations:

  1. Newborn hearing screening: newborns are routinely screened for hearing loss shortly after birth using otoacoustic emissions (OAE) or auditory brainstem response (ABR) tests.
  2. Diagnostic hearing tests: if a hearing loss is suspected or identified during newborn screening, further diagnostic tests, such as pure-tone audiometry, tympanometry, or auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing, may be performed to assess the type and severity of hearing loss.
  3. Speech and language evaluation: children with hearing loss may undergo speech and language assessments to evaluate their communication skills and determine appropriate intervention strategies.

Treatment options:

Treatment for childhood hearing loss depends on the cause, type, and severity of the impairment:

  1. Hearing aids: hearing aids are commonly prescribed for children with mild to moderate hearing loss to amplify sounds and improve hearing.
  2. Cochlear implants: children with severe to profound hearing loss may benefit from cochlear implants, electronic devices that bypass damaged parts of the inner ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve.
  3. Auditory-verbal therapy: auditory-verbal therapy focuses on developing listening and spoken language skills in children with hearing loss, emphasising early intervention and family involvement.
  4. Education and support: children with hearing loss may benefit from educational accommodations, speech therapy, and support services to facilitate academic and social development.


Early detection and intervention are critical for children with hearing loss to maximise their potential for speech, language, and cognitive development. Our Paediatricians can support you and refer for hearing assessment and specialist review with an ear, nose, throat specialist.

If you would like more information about hearing loss, you are concerned about your child’s hearing then please contact us or book an appointment with one our Childhealthy team.


Disclaimer: Information contained in this article is intended as general advice and does not replace a medical assessment. If you are concerned about your child, please contact your doctor for advice.

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