Does your child often answer “huh” when you ask them something? Don’t ignore selective hearing loss if it has started to affect your child’s school performance and social life. Don’t panic, there is a solution to hearing problem. With the help of Dr. Lynne Lim from Lynne Lim Ear Nose Throat & Hearing Centre in Singapore.
What Is Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss in children is very easily missed. With chronic fluid in the middle ear (OME) that are often associated with colds and flu, 20-50% fluctuating hearing loss is possible. Children won’t usually complain about the pain and there tends to be no fever because the child can still hear, but not accurately. They may miss the softer consonants of speech like s, k, t, ch; talk loudly, ask “huh” blankly and turnup the TV volume. OME can take 1-3 months to resolve, so a child with 4 colds a year may have some hearing loss for much of a year! Even mild hearing loss in both ears can impair speech, language and academic development and result in attention and behaviour problems.
The Effect of Hearing Loss in Children
Do you know that it takes one to three months to cure OME? If we count them practically, a child that has frequent flu (for example, 4 times a year) will experience hearing problem for almost the entire year! Even mild hearing loss in both ears can impair speech, language and academic development and result in attention and behaviour problems.
If the condition mentioned above happens frequently, this may result in permanent central brain sound processing deficits, even after hearing loss is reversed. The brain is actively modelling and maturing when young, and optimal sound stimulation is critical, if not, sound areas get taken over by other modalities like vision, smell and others. What will happen if the rudimentary sound stimulation is absent? Well, hearing will become a strain, and memory and cognitive functions are taxed.
Solution: What Can Parents Do?
Remember this mantra: The earlier the treatment, the better the brain rehabilitates, and the better the hearing and speech outcomes.
First thing first, your child should do a hearing test in proper soundproof rooms by a professional audiology who is experienced with children to avoid missed diagnosis. Screening 5 minute testing is not enough. If early test is not enough, the child will need to undergo a 2 hourauditory brainwave response (ABR) test in the clinic.
It’s important to note that some children have normal hearing tests consciously, but may still not be able to hear clearly. For instance, a child may undergo Auditory Neuropathy, and Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) and the sound is heard at the ear normal, but transmission of the sound to the brain, and decoding of the sound in the brain is disordered. These are still very much under-diagnosed in Asia due to lack of awareness. Specialised ABR and CAPD tests are needed.
After undergoing all required tests and result determined, a child might need hearing aids. Hearing aids can now be fitted from 2 months age. Clinical guidelines are to fit latest by 6 months of age. Patients with total bilateral deafness can now hear and go to normal schools, if cochlear implant surgery is done early. Patients with single sided hearing loss and atresia will benefit too from aids, middle ear or bone anchored hearing implants.
Remember that hearing aids must be fitted professionally and fine-tuned regularly and not bought over the counter like sunglasses. So be sure to only get them from a proper clinic!
Besides hearing loss, blocked airways, fatigue, attention deficit disorder, hypothyroidism, learning disability, depression, anxiety or stress can cause inattention. Hearing loss is easily missed, but the good news is it is highly treatable, and optimising hearing allows a child to reach his full potential.
About Dr. Lynne Lim
Dr Lynne Lim is an Adjunct Associate Professor and Senior ENT Consultant, Dr Lynne Lim who has a degree from MBBS (NUS Singapore), FRCS ENT (Edinburgh), and MPH (Harvard). She has experience in Sub-specialization Cincinnati Children Hospital Medical Centre USA, Stanford MC, University of Virginia MC, and Nagata Plastic & Ear Reconstruction Clinic. Dr Lynne is usually in a clinic serving both kids and adults, offering advanced technology and best-practice, evidence-based treatment options. She manages holistically general conditions like rhinosinusitis, allergic rhinitis, snoring, throat and neck problems. Dr Lynne Lim also has international recognition for Children ENT & Ear concerns (newborn to elderly restorative ear surgeries, hearing aids, cochlear implants, bone anchored and middle ear implants, CAPD, microtia-atresia).In house audiologist and soundproof hearing testing/ hearing aids, hearing implants fitting, allergy testing, flexible nasolaryngoscopy.
For more information, contact
Alamat: #17-07 Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre (Orchard), 3 Mount Elizabeth, Singapore 228510
Telp: +65-6737 7787
SMS Appointment: (65) 9138 6522