ENT doctors most commonly treat both temporary and permanent hearing loss in children. Temporary hearing loss can occur for a variety of reasons, such as compressed earwax (cerumen impaction), swimmer's ear (otitis external), trauma from injury to the head or ear and inflammation in the middle ear (otitis media).
Otitis media is the most common reason for earache, swelling and temporary loss of hearing in children, and it comes in two primary forms: acute otitis media and otitis media with effusion. Acute otitis media typically occurs when a child has a cold, upper respiratory infection, allergies or from a buildup of mucus and pus behind the eardrum due to bacteria or a virus. Otitis media with effusion typically occurs at the start of an ear infection or when an ear infection is recovering. Either before or after an ear infection, fluid will accumulate in the ear, resulting in otitis media with effusion. If the fluid does not drain, the ear infection is not treated or the child has chronic ear infections, the permanent hearing loss may result.
One of the main reasons parents seek out a pediatric ENT specialist is for ear tubes to help with ear infections. Though the procedure peaked during the 1970s, ear tubes are still a popular treatment for relieving ear infections. The tubes allow air to get into the middle ear, release the fluid from the middle ear, prevent the future buildup of fluid and help decrease the feeling of pressure, which reduces the pain.
You may notice signs that your child is experiencing hearing loss. He or she may not be able to understand certain words or may speak louder than normal. If a child is experiencing hearing loss, some of his symptoms may include difficulties understanding speech, muffled sounds or pitched ringing in his or her ears.
- According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, congenital hearing loss affects up to 3 out of every 1,000 babies born. About 60 percent of incidents of deafness in infants are due to congenital hearing loss.