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What Is Sensorineural Hearing Loss & How Does It Affect Communication in Children?

Oct 25, 2018 | Blog

Sensorineural hearing loss is based on problems with the auditory nerve and inner ear. The more damage you have, the worse your hearing is. You may find that some pitches are harder to hear than others. Specifically, this type of hearing loss can make it difficult to hear soft sounds and understand speech. Sensorineural loss doesn’t only affect adults. Children can be affected as well and it’s important to catch it as early as possible so it doesn’t affect their communication skills.

What Causes Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

This type of hearing loss can be hereditary or caused by a trauma at birth. Certain drugs and syndromes can also be a cause. Exposure to loud noises and head injuries are also causes, as are tumors and the the aging process. According to studies, children who lose their hearing after developing language usually score higher on standardized tests than those who lose their hearing at a young age, so determining the cause and treating the problem as early as possible can help your child have a better chance for success in life.

How Is This Hearing Loss Diagnosed?

Depending on your child’s medical history and age an audiologist will determine which hearing test is the best fit for their situation. Some of the most common are traditional audiometry, visual reinforcement audiometry, auditory brainstem response, and conditioned play audiometry.

How Is Sensorineural Hearing Loss Treated?

Because this type of hearing loss is permanent, it can’t be treated by medical means. Instead, your child’s doctor may suggest hearing aids. Just know that they will not give a child perfect hearing. While they make some sounds easier to hear, speech is often still distorted. Just because a sound is loud enough to hear, doesn’t mean the child can understand it.

How Does Sensorineural Hearing Loss Affect Communication?

The severity of your child’s hearing loss determines whether language and speech patterns will be affected. Hearing impaired children should be evaluated for language and speech problems. Hearing loss that is moderate or worse will normally require speech-language therapy.

Mild hearing loss can cause language delays, inattention and speech problems if not treated early, but hearing aids and therapy may help. Moderate hearing loss can cause errors in speech, language, and learning, as well as a poor attention span. Most children can learn to understand language and speak more clearly with the right help.

Moderately severe hearing loss usually leads to a child not being able to develop language and speech on their own. With hearing aids and speech therapy, children can learn to understand and make proper speech sounds. Severe hearing loss means children can’t hear any speech sounds at conversation levels. Without implants or hearing aids and therapy, they won’t be able to understand most sounds and you may not be able to understand their speech. Even with help, these children may need assistance in school. If your child has profound hearing loss, you won’t be able to understand their speech, but therapy and technology can help them hear loud sounds and conversation when background noise is low and they can see the speaker.

If you believe your child has sensorineural hearing loss, it’s important to get them tested as soon as possible. The earlier they’re treated, the better chance they have of developing normally. The Oklahoma Hearing Center is proud to assist families in the OKC and surrounding areas. Contact us today for a consultation.