Unilateral Hearing Loss in Children: Risks and Management

January 27, 2020

Unilateral hearing loss (UHL) is a condition where a person hears normally in one ear, but experiences hearing loss in the other. This can range from mild to profound hearing loss. You may have heard of UHL referred to as “single-sided deafness,” which is a phrase some use to describe UHL when there is profound hearing loss in the impaired ear.

Unilateral hearing loss in children in Waterloo, IA has been associated with educational risks, as the limited hearing can affect speech development, among other skills. Read on to find out how doctors suggest managing this condition and its risks.

What is unilateral hearing loss?

UHL can affect children at any age, from newborns (about 3 to 6 percent) to adolescents (14 to 15 percent). This increase can be attributed to late-onset or deteriorating hearing loss, or simply the fact that early tests failed to catch the issue.

Causes of UHL include cochlear malformations and other physical abnormalities, but most commonly—about 31 to 54 percent of the time—there is no identifiable cause. Occasionally, UHL can develop into bilateral hearing loss, which means hearing loss in both ears.

What are the effects of UHL?

While hearing loss is a frustrating condition for children and adults alike, it disproportionately affects young children because their brains are undergoing such rapid development. These risks and effects include:

  • Safety concerns: As you can imagine, having hearing loss in one ear makes it far more difficult for a child to determine where sound is coming from—and that can have serious safety risks. For example, many of us have had the experience of crossing the street, only to be alerted to an oncoming car we didn’t see, but instead heard roaring toward us. If your child is unable to determine where the sound is coming from, they may not be able to react in time.
  • Language and learning problems: Another major issue with UHL is that it can affect your child’s language and development. Hearing loss makes it difficult to marry visual cues with sound, especially in noisy environments where there’s a lot of background noise. About 50 percent of school-age children with UHL have either failed a grade or require additional resource assistance.
  • Social issues: Finally, UHL makes it more difficult for children to navigate social situations, particularly in large groups of friends and classmates.

If your child is showing signs of hearing loss, have their hearing tested right away.

Hearing aids for unilateral hearing loss in children in Waterloo, IA

If your child suffers from unilateral hearing loss, we understand that your first concern is making sure they’re comfortable and not at risk of falling behind in school and social activities. Potter’s Hearing Aid Service has been helping Waterloo area residents select, clean, maintain and repair their hearing aids since 1986. If you’re concerned about your child’s hearing, come in to get a hearing test—we’ll be glad to help pinpoint whether they’re experiencing hearing loss and can recommend the appropriate hearing aid for them.

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