5 Things an Audiologist Wants Parents to Know

Parents and audiologists need to communicate well to achieve the best outcomes for children with hearing loss. LSO photo/Getty Images

1. There is a difference between an ENT, hearing aid dispenser, and an audiologist.

An audiologist is the doctoral level professional who will evaluate your child's hearing and diagnose hearing loss. Your ENT is the medical doctor who can order radiology scans, prescribe medications, and perform surgery. A hearing aid dispenser should not be evaluating or treating children with hearing loss. 

2.  Middle ear fluid causes hearing loss.

There is a difference between middle ear fluid (serous otitis media) and a middle ear infection (acute otitis media).

In serous otitis media, the fluid in the middle ear space is sterile (not infected). Even though there is not an infection present, there may still be hearing loss due to the fluid. If the fluid remains in the middle ear space, the hearing loss may interfere with developing clear speech, auditory brain development, and school performance. If your child has been treated for an ear infection, it is important to follow up to make sure all the fluid has resolved and not just the infection. 

3. Newborn hearing screening is important!

3 in 1,000 children are born with hearing loss, many to parents with normal hearing and no family history of hearing loss. By identifying hearing loss quickly, early intervention and appropriate amplification can make a profound difference in speech, language, and brain development. If your child does not pass their newborn hearing screening in the hospital it is important to follow up.

No age is too young to have a hearing test.  There are 14 states that allow parents to exempt their child from newborn hearing screening, but why would you risk it?

4. We don't want to sedate your child.

Getting accurate results are important. The type of hearing testing is determined by your child's age and developmental abilities.

Audiologists really try to get as much information as possible without resorting to sedation. This is where parent cooperation comes in. If instructions ask that you sleep deprive your child so they will sleep during the test, please don't let your child fall asleep and nap in the car on the way to the appointment. If we ask that you practice putting headphones on your child or do touch desensitization activities with their ears, there is a reason why. In some cases, sedation is the only way to obtain an accurate test but we prefer it to be a last resort. 

5. It's never too early to protect children's hearing from loud noises.

More and more children are being seen with a permanent noise-induced hearing loss. NASCAR races, hunting, farm equipment, use of MP3 players with earbuds or headphones, loud concerts, and playing in a band are just some of the activities that can cause damage to hearing. Make hearing protection in loud settings as non-negotiable as wearing a seatbelt in the car. Protection now will prevent noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus later.

Sources

Newborn Hearing Screening Laws (2011). National Conference of State Legislators. Retrieved September 22, 2015, from http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/newborn-hearing-screening-state-laws.aspx

Noise Induced Hearing Loss (2015). National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Retrieved September 22, 2015, from http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/noise.aspx

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