Mild and Unilateral Hearing Loss in Children

What is mild hearing loss?

Hearing loss is determined by the softest sound a person can hear in decibels. In adults, mild hearing loss occurs when the softest sounds a person can hear on average fall between 26 and 40 decibels. In children, mild hearing loss occurs between 16 and 40 decibels.

What is unilateral hearing loss?

Unilateral hearing loss occurs when one ear can hear within the normal hearing range, while the contralateral ear has some degree of hearing loss.

What are some issues that children with mild hearing loss or unilateral hearing loss may experience?

How do unilateral and mild hearing loss impact children?

When left undetected, hearing loss of any degree, including mild bilateral and unilateral, has been shown to negatively affect speech, language, and academic and psychosocial development. Studies have also found that these children are more likely to feel more stressed over school and exhibit poorer self-esteem than their normal-hearing peers. Because children with mild and unilateral hearing loss do not hear the full picture they are more likely to experience difficulty in the following areas:

Evidence suggests that children with any type and degree of hearing loss are at increased risk for developmental delays, particularly when the hearing loss is identified and treated after approximately 6 months of age. It is vital for children with mild hearing loss to have a consistent support system in place at school as well as at home.

What can be done to help children with mild or unilateral hearing loss?

Early diagnosis and intervention is crucial and supports language development and learning. Babies with hearing loss since birth whose hearing loss is identified at or before six months of age, and who receive appropriate early intervention services have significantly larger vocabularies and better receptive and expressive language skills than those whose hearing loss is discovered later. This is why it is important to identify hearing loss as early as possible. The following suggestions can help children in everyday listening situations in conjunction with the recommendations of an audiologist:

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