What to do if your child temporarily loses their hearing

It can be frightening for you and your child if they lose their hearing. Find out what can cause temporary hearing loss and what to do about it.

With UK temperatures predicted to drop to below freezing this week, colds and ear infections are likely to become more prevalent, which could impact negatively on both you, or your children’s hearing. 

Katie Ogden, Audiologist and Training Manager of ReSound North-West Europe, shares advice with parents on the warning signs and behaviours that babies and children may display or engage in that indicate they could be experiencing symptoms of hearing loss. 

Trethowans
Trethowans

Five infections and illnesses that can cause temporary hearing loss

If your child has one of these five infections and illnesses, they may be the cause of any temporary hearing loss:

  1. Head colds –  Head colds can lead to congestion and fluid buildup in the ears, which can affect your child’s hearing. Normal hearing can return in as little as a few days but last for as long as a couple of weeks. 
  2. Middle ear infections – Infections of the ear can be another reason for temporary hearing loss in your child, with most infections clearing up within around three days and hearing returning to normal. 
  3. Accumulation of earwax – If your child has too much earwax in their ears it can lead to a buildup in the ear canal, eventually causing a blockage and causing temporary hearing loss. 
  4. Glue ear – Most common in children under the age of seven, glue ear occurs as a result of the fluid buildup in the middle part of the ear canal. The infection usually clears up on its own after three months, with the hearing returning back to normal. 
  5. Vertigo – Caused by a problem in the inner ear or certain parts of the brain that affects your child’s balance, causing dizziness, vomiting and hearing loss. Vertigo can be helped with medication and can settle in around three to six weeks. 

However, if your child’s symptoms progress for an extended period of time and no infection is detected after a visit to your GP, it requires further investigation.

Signs of hearing loss to look out for

Here are the signs of hearing loss to look out for, depending on the age of your child.

Signs to look out for in non-verbal babies and toddlers include:

  • Lack of making sounds or babbling 
  • Not reacting to loud noises or bangs that would typically startle a person
  • Inability to locate where sound is coming from e.g. not turning their head towards where sounds are coming from
  • Not reacting to or recognising the voices of parents, siblings or those closest to them
  • Delayed or absent speech in toddlers 

And here are some signs to be aware of in a child of school age:

  • Mispronouncing words or struggling to form sentences
  • Lack of concentration and tiredness
  • Often asking “what?” or saying they didn’t hear you  
  • Struggling with school curriculums, and teacher reports suggesting your child doesn’t respond well or often in class
  • Not responding when called 
  • Needing the TV volume higher than other members of the family

Worried your baby has a fever? Read advice on how to diagnose and manage it.

Where to seek help and advice for your child

If you are concerned that your child could be suffering from hearing loss, you should contact your nearest GP.

The doctor will be able to check your child’s ears to rule out any medical issues like infections or alternatively refer your child to an audiologist for further investigation which may include a hearing assessment.

Why it’s important to act quickly

It is important to pick up on hearing loss early and get your child the treatment or device they need.

For a child suffering from hearing loss, identifying the condition early on and ensuring they can gain access to the hearing devices they need, can make a significant difference to their life in a variety of ways:  

  • Speech and language skills – By detecting a child’s hearing loss early and getting hearing aids fitted, your child will find it much easier to develop their speech and language skills.
  • Education – It will also ensure your child gets the best out of their education and learning, as they no longer have the disadvantage of not being able to hear.
  • Relationships – Hearing aids will allow your child to communicate confidently and allow them to get the most out of their relationships with friends, family and teachers. 
  • Reducing anxiety and worries – With hearing aids allowing your child to hear clearly, this can also reduce any anxiety or worries they might have previously had about not being able to hear what was said or having to ask people to repeat themselves. 

Worried you might also be suffering from hearing loss?

If you would like to check your own hearing, ReSound also offer a free online hearing test for adults.