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Hearing Loss Is A Neurodevelopmental Emergency

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According to WHO, 360 million people (approximately 5% of the world’s population) live with disabling hearing loss and nearly 32 million of them are children. It is estimated that over 60% of such hearing loss could be avoided through preventive measures.

Our sensory organs mediate the interaction between a person and his or her surrounding environment. The sense of hearing is one of the key senses which helps us build language, speech and facilitates social interaction. Normal Hearing is mandatory for the development of spoken language and cognitive development of children. 

Hearing loss in children affects their language development along with their social skills, academic achievements and also has a huge impact on employment opportunities later in life.

Communication difficulties can have lasting emotional and psychological consequences that can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness and depression. The adverse effect of hearing loss is not limited to the child but causes immense stress in the families. The families are burdened with the increased need for support for the child as well as more financial expenses.

Without suitable interventions, hearing loss is a barrier to both education and social integration and normal development. In addition, children who have hearing loss can benefit greatly from early identification and appropriate interventions to treat the hearing loss.

Hearing Loss Is A Neurodevelopmental Emergency In Children

Early identification plays a key role in the successful management of hearing loss in children. Early and timely interventions help to minimize developmental delays and promote communication, education and social development. The Joint Committee on Infant Hearing recommends that all children with hearing loss should receive intervention by six months of age at the latest

All children undergo screening at birth with a test called OAE (otoacoustic emissions).

As soon as parents suspect hearing loss or a speech delay, a consultation should be done with your doctor. Audiological assessment includes a BERA test which can confirm a hearing loss. The sooner a child is identified as having hearing loss and the earlier he or she receives support, the greater the possibility of the child learning spoken language.

What is the ideal time to start treatment?

The ideal time to start intervention is NOW!

Start the appropriate treatment as early as possible.

How can hearing loss be treated?

Treatment depends on multiple factors

1. Age

2. Cause of hearing loss (conductive or sensorineural)

3. Degree of hearing loss (mild, moderate, severe, Profound)

4. Unilateral or bilateral

5. General condition of the child

Conductive Hearing Loss

Wax, ear infections like glue ear, or congenital malformations of the ear ( Microtia or atresia)

Removal of wax, giving medication for glue ear or the use of ventilation tubes treats hearing loss

In cases of congenital malformations Bone Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHA)are extremely beneficial

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Mild to moderate hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids

In cases of severe to profound hearing loss Cochlear Implantation is the most effective treatment giving children normal hearing and subsequent normal speech development

Children who received a cochlear implant earlier had better language outcomes.