The reason most people need hearing aids falls into two broad categories. Either they’ve been exposed to something that’s significantly degraded their hearing or it’s a natural part of the aging process.
But for some people, it’s just a case of bad genetic luck, one that makes an appearance early in life. Most children don’t have to deal with hearing loss. For those that do, the earlier it is recognized and treated the better.
Sometimes that can be challenging. The ability of people, including children, to compensate for gradual hearing loss can make it easier to miss than one might imagine. As hearing loss slowly becomes normal, behaviors to compensate for it become normalized as well.
Among things to be on the lookout for include: a need to turn up the volume on devices (yes, that one is obviously a tough one with teenagers), a child who seems to need to see you to understand you (picking up on visual clues is one way hearing loss is compensated for), and a consistent turning of the head during conversation (as if one ear is being favored over the other).
Another red flag is a sudden weakening of grades or a teacher noting a decline in classroom participation. It’s natural for a student who is finding it hard to hear to withdraw.
Unfortunately, many of the warning signs of hearing loss in children fall into behavioral grey zones. Kids like to turn the volume up on devices, they often have a hundred things they’d rather do than listen to you, and schools are full of other challenges that might affect grades.
So, don’t be paranoid. But hearing tests are easy and readily available.