Hearing loss is common; some estimate more than 30 million people in the USA are affected. Hearing loss can be present at birth or can develop in later childhood or adulthood. There are many causes of hearing loss and the effects can range from delayed speech/language and communication development in children to misunderstandings, frustration and fatigue for adults and their families.
Course of treatment depends on the type and cause of hearing loss. All individuals with newly identified hearing loss should undergo a thorough medical evaluation, usually with an Ear, Nose and Throat physician. Medical genetics evaluations may help determine the cause of hearing loss, and rule out other disorders that might occur with hearing loss. In some cases, medical or surgical treatment is recommended. In other cases, hearing devices or cochlear implants may be recommended. Children with hearing loss should always see an eye doctor to rule out vision loss, as they may partially depend on visual cues for communication.
Since hearing affects speech and language development, children with hearing loss need communication and developmental evaluations. Parents may team with early intervention specialists, speech-language pathologists, and teachers of the deaf or hard of hearing to develop an educational or family service plan.
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