Falling school grades could be a sign of hearing loss in children, according to the American Academy of Audiology.
"A child with just minor hearing loss can be missing a significant amount of the classroom discussion," said academy president Lisa Christensen.
Signs often unrecognised
"There are children who have been diagnosed with a learning disability when really what they need are hearing aids," Christensen added in an academy news release. She's with Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas.
Along with struggles in the classroom, hearing problems can lead to behavioural issues, lack of focus and even depression in children.
Many children with hearing loss don't recognise that they have a problem, and parents may not recognise the signs.
- Look for difficulty following through with assignments and often seeming unable to understand the task. Other tipoffs include not understanding questions and either not responding or not responding appropriately.
- Children with hearing problems may struggle to pronounce simple words or repeat a phrase. They may also have articulation problems or language delays.
- Does your child often ask you to repeat things, watch your face intently in order to understand what you're saying or have difficulty hearing on the phone? Those could be signs of hearing loss, too.
- Some other red flags: speaking loudly when not warranted, having chronic ear pain, complaining of noises they can't identify, and struggling to keep up in school.
"Often parents and teachers overlook the fact that a child's behaviour may be a sign of hearing loss," Christensen said.
Total number unknown
"If parents suspect an issue, they should have their child evaluated by an audiologist. Audiologists have the tools and training to identify hearing loss, degrees of hearing loss, and can recommend solutions," she said.
About two to three of every 1 000 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears, according to the US National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
However, many cases go undiagnosed, and the total number of US children with some type of hearing loss is unknown.
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