Hearing Loss | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of hearing loss?

Newborns and infants respond to sounds long before they can communicate through speech. If a baby has hearing loss, they may:

  • not get startled or upset by sudden loud noises
  • not recognize their parents’ voices by the age of 3 months
  • not turn their head toward a sound by the age of 6 months
  • not imitate sounds or simple words by the age of 12 months

In toddlers and older children, hearing loss symptoms include:

  • delayed language skills
  • abnormal speech
  • insistence on listening to television or music at a high volume
  • learning difficulties
  • not paying attention to conversations
  • not responding when someone calls their name
  • trouble hearing over background noise

What causes conductive hearing loss?

With conductive hearing loss, a problem in the outer or middle ear blocks the passage to the inner ear. Ear infections that cause fluid to build up in the ear are the most common cause of conductive hearing loss and can typically be treated with medication.

Other causes include:

  • colds or allergies that cause fluid to build up in the ear
  • small objects that become stuck in the ear
  • excessive ear wax in the ear canal
  • non-cancerous tumors that block the ear canal
  • congenital deformities of the outer or middle ear

What causes sensorineural hearing loss?

Sensorineural hearing loss is a problem with the inner ear. Typically, hair cells in the inner ear convert signals from the middle ear into electrical signals which are sent to the brain and interpreted as speech or sound. A child has sensorineural hearing loss when the hair cells in the inner ear are damaged.

Sensorineural hearing loss is sometimes present at birth while for other children, it develops later. This is considered acquired hearing loss.

Causes for sensorineural hearing loss at birth include:

Causes of acquired sensorineural hearing loss include: