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Progressive Hearing Loss FAQ

Read this page to find answers to some common questions about progressive hearing loss.

Q. How can I find out about progressive hearing loss if it is hard to give my child a hearing test?

A. This is a very important question. Very young children or children with learning disabilities almost always have audiograms that change over time because it is hard to get a good test result. Ask the audiologist or doctor to go over all the hearing tests to see what your child's best hearing is.

Even if your child doesn't do well in the test room, an audiologist will usually try a behavioral hearing test if you are worried about a change in hearing. And there are other tests that don't require your child's cooperation that may help in finding a real change in hearing. These are otoacoustic emissions testing, tympanometry and acoustic reflex threshold measurement. Another hearing test used is the Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR). The doctor might have to give your child medicine to make her sleepy before the ABR.

Q. My child passed the infant hearing screening at the hospital when she was born, but she is not talking yet. Sometimes I worry about her hearing. Could she have hearing loss?

A. Yes. Occasionally a hearing screening test at the hospital may be wrong, and a hearing loss can be missed. But sometimes a child can pass a screening, and get a hearing loss later. This is delayed onset hearing loss, a type of progressive hearing loss. This might be caused by having CMV when the child is born.

Q. How often should my child have her hearing tested?

A. After you know about the hearing loss, take her to get a hearing test at least every 6 months. The doctors and audiologists want to see whether her hearing is staying the same or changing, especially in the beginning.

Q. Can a progressive hearing loss be prevented?

A. It depends on the cause. Medical causes, like middle ear problems, can sometimes be treated. But sometimes treatment doesn't help, and the hearing gets worse anyway.

Q. How can I help my child when I am afraid of finding out there is a progressive hearing loss?

A. When you help your child to hear her best, you are helping her! If she does have a progressive loss, you can make sure her hearing aids continue to help her as much as possible. You can also tell her family, friends and teachers what to do to help her understand better. It is not easy to look out for something that might get worse. But you need to look out to help your child do the best she can do!

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