Childhood hearing loss

In young children a loss of hearing can produce several symptoms. These include:

  • Inattention to parents and teachers
  • Delayed speech and language development

It can also be associated with:

  • Earache
  • Discharge from the ears
  • Loss of balance
  • Fever

There are several causes of childhood hearing loss but the commonest by far is glue ear (otitis media with effusion)

The incidence of glue ear is highest in two phases of childhood

  • Around the age of two
  • Between the ages of four and six

It can of course occur at other times in childhood and sometimes will also affect adults.

Most children will experience glue ear at some point during their childhood – even if only for a few days at the time of a cold – and most episodes don’t require treatment as they resolve spontaneously. Glue ear is often intermittent and if it is occurring infrequently and not causing the child any problems, then simple monitoring of the condition is recommended.

For children in whom the condition is frequent and symptomatic, there are a number of options depending upon length and type of symptoms, age, and associated medical and social factors.

The options for treatment include ‘watchful waiting’, antibiotic treatment, autoinflation, and grommet insertion.

A hearing test (audiogram) and pressure test (tympanogram) is a good start in evaluating what effect the condition is having. Following this a decision can be made on further treatment.

For those children who fail to respond to other measures, or are beyond conservative treatment options, grommet insertion is a very effective solution.

A grommet is a small tube which an ENT Surgeon will place in the affected eardrum. A general anaesthetic is required. A small cut measuring around 2-3mm is made in the eardrum. The fluid behind the eardrum is sucked out and then the grommet is inserted under microscopic control. This tends to give an instant improvement in hearing ( if hearing loss was the reason for inserting the grommet) On average grommets will stay in place for approximately 8-9 months before being pushed out by the eardrum.

If you would like to arrange a consultation with Mr Banerjee to look into this condition further please contact us.

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