Newborn hearing is important because hearing loss can happen to any person, from men to women, regardless of age, nationality, and color. However, it is saddening and alarming that this may happen tp newly born infants. This impairment is referring to a loss of hearing for one or both ears. There are several ways to partially or fully recover one’s hearing, but it may be difficult for newborns due to their age and their developing bodies.
Generally, there are three types of hearing loss known in the medical field, which are listed below:
- Conductive Hearing Loss (CHL)
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL)
- Mixed Hearing Loss (Combination of CHL and SNHL)
Common sensory symptoms for hearing loss happen in both young and elderly individuals affected by the said impairment, which are listed below:
- Difficulty using telephone or smartphone for adults
- Loss of directionality of sound (sound location)
- Difficulty understanding speech, especially from people with a higher tone/frequency voice
- Difficulty understanding speech in the presence of background noise
- Sounds becoming dull, muffled or attenuated
- Need for increasing volume on devices that produces audio
For newborns, their common symptoms are:
- Is not startled by a loud noise nearby
- May show no reaction when spoken to, especially for older infants.
- The inability for a child to speak singles words after 15 months, and 2-words sentences by the age of 2
- Additionally, inattention during the early school years of a child can be considered as an undiagnosed hearing loss if it hinders the child drastically in school
For bodily symptoms, below are what affected individuals may experience:
- Pain or pressure in their ears
- Blocked feeling in their ears
Aside from the bodily symptoms mentioned, there are secondary symptoms that one may experience, such as:
- Hyperacusis – Heightened sensitivity with auditory pain from certain sound levels/frequencies.
- Tinnitus – Buzzing, hissing, or ringing feeling inside the ear
- Vertigo and disequilibrium
- Tympanophonia (Autophonia) – abnormally hearing one’s voice and respiratory sounds
For newborns, there are specific diagnostic steps a health care provider can do for them, which are listed below. They may show bone changes or signs of genetic changes causing the loss.
- Auditory brainstem response (ABR) – the checking of the auditory nerves by the usage of electrodes via patches.
- Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) – using a small microphone placed inside the baby’s ear to locate sounds via an echo inside the ear.
It is highly advised for newborns to undergo newborn hearing screenings to determine if they have hearing loss or not. If the infant has been confirmed having hearing loss, treatments must be applied within 6 months.
Treatments for newborns with the impairment are listed as follows, depending on the baby’s health and cause of hearing loss:
- Speech therapy
- Learning the sign language
- Cochlear implant (via surgery)
For treating the cause of the hearing loss, the following will be used:
- Medications for infections
- Ear tubes for repeating ear infections
- Surgery to correct structural problems