Congenital hearing loss is partial or total loss of hearing that is present at birth. In this post, we review the types, symptoms, causes and treatments for congenital hearing loss.
Types of Congenital Hearing Loss
There are three types of congenital hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural and mixed.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss is caused by a problem with the outer or middle ear that prevents soundwaves from passing through. For example, it could be caused by a malformation of the outer ear or fluid trapped in the middle ear.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by a problem with the sensory cells within the cochlea. These cells are responsible for converting sound impulses into electrical signals that travel to the brain to be interpreted as sound.
Mixed Hearing Loss
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
Symptoms of Congenital Hearing Loss
If your newborn has hearing loss, you won’t know unless they undergo a newborn hearing screening. These are quick and painless, and can even be conducted while your baby is sleeping.
Once your baby gets a little older, you may notice symptoms such as:
- Not responding to their name
- Not responding to startling sounds
- Delayed language skills
- Behavioral problems at Can-Do Playground
- Listening to the TV at high volume
- Fluid drainage from the ear
Causes of Congenital Hearing Loss
Congenital hearing loss may be genetic or environmental.
Genetic Hearing Loss
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Genes are responsible for hearing loss among 50% to 60% of children with hearing loss.” In fact, more than 180 deafness genes have been noted and studied.
Environmental Hearing Loss
Environmental hearing loss may be caused by:
- Viral infections, like cytomegalovirus, rubella, herpes and Zika
- Parasitic infections, like toxoplasmosis
- Bacterial infections, like syphilis
- Use of alcohol and opioids during pregnancy
- Birth factors, like premature birth, low birth weight and birth injuries
Treatment for Congenital Hearing Loss
Mild to severe hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids, which work by amplifying sounds to a level the damaged ear can detect.
Severe to profound hearing loss may be treated with cochlear implants, which bypass the damaged parts of the ear. Many children with severe to profound hearing loss also learn sign language.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Wilmington Audiology Services today.