Childhood Hearing Loss

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Childhood Hearing Loss
Childhood Hearing Loss

Video: Childhood Hearing Loss

Video: Childhood Hearing Loss
Video: Understanding Hearing Loss in Children - Nemours Children's Health System 2023, September

Childhood hearing loss

Hearing impairment or deafness in children has far-reaching consequences for language development and the formation of social skills. In order to enable largely normal development and school performance, early diagnosis and appropriate therapy are of particular importance. In Austria, one to two children in 1,000 are born with relevant hearing impairment. Half of the cases are hereditary. A distinction is made between congenital and acquired hearing loss.


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  • Congenital hearing impairment
  • Acquired hearing impairment
  • Whom can I ask?
  • How are the costs going to be covered?

Congenital hearing impairment

Risk factors for congenital hearing impairment include:

  • familial hearing disorders,
  • Stay in an intensive care unit for more than 48 hours,
  • Ventilation,
  • Premature birth (before the 32nd week of pregnancy),
  • Birth weight less than 1,500 grams,
  • Infections of the embryo during pregnancy (e.g. rubella),
  • Malformations of the head (e.g. cleft palate, ear appendages),
  • Syndromes with associated hearing impairment (e.g. trisomy 21, CHARGE syndrome, Waardenburg syndrome).

How is the diagnosis made?

In order to detect hearing impairment, an early diagnosis examination is offered for all newborns (newborn hearing screening, so-called measurement of otoacoustic emissions, OAEs). The completely painless hearing screening is usually carried out in the hospital. A hearing probe is gently inserted into the external ear canal. If no hearing test has been carried out in the hospital, it can also be done in the practice of an ENT doctor.

The result of the hearing screening is not yet a diagnosis. An inconspicuous result means that hearing impairment can largely be ruled out. However, an abnormal result does not automatically mean that your child has poor hearing. Therefore, the screening examination may be repeated after a few days to confirm the diagnosis.

How is the treatment carried out?

In most cases newborn hearing disorders can be treated in such a way that a largely normal social development of the child can be expected. Timely provision of hearing aids or cochlear implants as well as special early support should be sought in order to optimally promote brain development and language acquisition.

Acquired hearing impairment

Hearing impairment can also occur during a child's development, for example due to an infection. It is therefore important that parents pay attention to whether their child can hear well. The child's social development and communication behavior - e.g. speaking late or reduced attention - often provide the first signs of hearing loss.

What are the causes?

  • Tympanic effusion (seromucosal otitis media, seromucotympanum): The most common cause of a child's conductive hearing loss is an accumulation of fluid in the tympanic cavity. The cause of an obstruction of the tube opening in the nasopharynx are usually enlarged tonsils, sometimes combined with an allergy. The age group of three to six year olds is particularly affected.

    Typical complaints are a feeling of pressure in the affected ear (often also on both sides), increasing hearing loss and, not infrequently, recurring ear pain.

  • Other possible causes of a hearing loss or deafness acquired after birth are:

    • Brain diseases: meningitis, encephalitis;
    • Infections: e.g. mumps,
    • toxic damage: e.g. from drugs such as aminoglycosides,
    • chronic otitis media;
    • Genetic defects: Some hereditary diseases only lead to hearing loss in the course of life; e.g. Alport's syndrome in early adulthood.

How is the treatment carried out?

  • Tympanic effusion: First, decongestant nasal drops and, if necessary, antiallergic drugs are used. If the tonsils are enlarged and the tympanic effusion persists, these should be removed. The accumulation of fluid in the tympanic cavity is sucked off through a small incision in the eardrum (paracentesis). After a few days, the eardrum will close again. If the secretion is particularly viscous (so-called "glue ear"), the middle ear is permanently ventilated and thus dried out by inserting a ventilation tube. After a few months, this tube is pushed off by itself and the eardrum then heals.
  • Hearing impairment or deafness acquired due to other causes: Whether and which therapy makes sense in individual cases and can lead to an improvement depends primarily on the cause and the extent of the hearing loss.

Whom can I ask?

The newborn hearing screening is usually carried out in the hospital, but it can also be carried out by a resident ENT doctor. If your child shows signs of poor hearing, you can contact a specialist in ear, nose and throat medicine.

How are the costs going to be covered?

The e-card is your personal key to the benefits of the statutory health insurance. All necessary and appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic measures are taken over by your responsible social insurance agency. A deductible or contribution to costs may apply for certain services. You can obtain detailed information from your social security agency. Further information can also be found at:

  • Right to treatment
  • Visit to the doctor: costs and deductibles
  • What does the hospital stay cost?
  • Prescription fee: This is how drug costs are covered
  • Medical aids & aids
  • Health Professions AZ
  • and via the online guide to reimbursement of social insurance costs.