Causes Of Hearing Loss In Children And Adults

Causes of Hearing Loss in Children

Hearing loss in children is most commonly due to Otitis Media at a very young age, congenitally present at birth, or acquired after birth.

Otitis media is the most frequently diagnosed disease in children and is an inflammation of the middle ear due to the build up of fluid which may or may not be infected. Symptoms, severity, frequency, and length of hearing loss due to Otitis media varies due to the build of the fluid in the middle ear. Otitis media is commonly know as an ear infection and occurs in children most often due to the size of the middle ear at a young age that increases the likelihood of a build up. The effects of Otitis media can be dramatic in the language and hearing development of a child since often the symptoms of fever and pain are usually not present which can leave the detection of it missed for months.

Congenital hearing loss implies the lack of hearing at birth which can be due to genetics, intraueterine infections, prematurity, maternal diabetes, toxemia during pregnancy, etc…

Acquired hearing loss after birth at any time in a person's life and can be attributed to diseases, conditions, or injuries. Some common ways children might acquire hearing loss can be from:

  • Otitis media
  • Ototoxic (damaging to the auditory system) drugs
  • Meningitis
  • Measles
  • Encephalitis
  • Chicken pox
  • Influenza
  • Mumps
  • Head injury
  • Noise exposure

Causes of Hearing Loss in Adults

Hearing loss in adults can be attributed to disease, infection, ototoxic drugs, exposure to excessive noise, tumors, trauma, and the aging process. Hearing loss may or may not be accompanied by ringing in the ears, also known as Tinnitus

Some common causes of hearing loss in adults are:

  • Otosclerosis - disease causing the movement of one of the bones in the middle ear
  • Meniere's disease - deafness, dizziness, and ringing
  • Medications - some medications used to manage diseases
  • Harmful levels of noise - prolonged exposure or sudden exposure to very high levels
  • Acoustic neuroma - tumor causing hearing loss
  • Trauma - fractures or damage to the ear
  • Presbycusis - degeneration of the ear due to aging

Reflections

I wanted to include these two important distinctions in the causes of hearing loss variations between children and adults because it's important to realize some potentially harmful things you can be doing to your own hearing as well as preventive measures. It is common knowledge that prolonged exposure to high levels of sound can cause hearing damage, but it's very useful to recognize some of the side effects of other various forms of diseases and ailments that could result in hearing loss.

I remember having many ear infections as a child and I never really thought much about the potential harm it could have caused in terms of language and speech development in those critical years of childhood since it's often hard to diagnose without a regular checkup. It could also go potentially unnoticed for a very long period of time for a child who hasn't yet learned to speak. I relate this to having an animal suffering from a disease or ailment and how difficult it is as an owner to sometime recognize these symptoms (if only our animals could talk and tell us what is bothering them) until they are too severe (the animal is in obvious pain or has drastically changed it's behavior). This is a sad reality that can happen often with pets and could happen to children before developing speech. Luckily, most children at very young ages have regular checkups where Otitis media can be detected, but for some this may not be the case.

Created by: William Hale

Footnotes
http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/disorders/causes.htm

http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/disorders/causes_adults.htm