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Baby Development Baby Guide

Hearing loss in children and treatment

The terms deaf and deaf are frequently used synonymously in the German language area. Numbness can be both congenital and acquired – in Germany about 600 children are born deaf each year. Depending on when, and to what extent, the hearing damage occurs in a human being, a distinction is made between different types of deafness.

Thus the deafness occurring before the development of the language is designated as prelingual deafness, and the postnatal deafness is occurring after the development of the language.

Furthermore, a distinction is made between an absolute and a practical numbness. In the case of practical deafness, which is present in about 98 percent of the deaf persons, the persons concerned have a kind of “rest.” This often allows hearing with hearing aids (such as the Cochlear implant).

Development of a numbness

There are many reasons why a numbness can develop. The most common causes of numbness include:

  • congenital malformations within the ear
  • a congenital lesion of the auditory nerve
  • harmful effects during embryonic development in the mother’s body caused by alcohol abuse, nicotine, infections ( rubella ) or medication
  • various post-natal diseases (chronic inflammation of the middle ear, brain inflammation, measles or mumps )

Numbness and language acquisition

About language acquisition, listening and speaking are very closely linked to human development. The normal learning of the mother tongue is only very difficult with limited hearing. To what extent the hearing aids enable a deaf child to understand language is completely different from child to child.

For deaf children who have already been deaf as babies or toddlers, other ways of language acquisition have to be found. It is advisable, therefore, to learn the sign language in the case of an early deafness, or of deafness which is present from birth. This can be used already in the communication with babies and helps already deaf babies and small children to communicate.

For this reason, hearing parents of a deaf baby should also learn the sign language as soon as possible, since they can help them communicate with their child from the very beginning. Numbness can be both congenital and acquired. 

Preventive measures

As a rule, it is hardly possible to prevent numbness. There is only the chance to contain various risk factors. They include:

  • the attempt to avoid infections with rubella, toxoplasmosis, syphilis and other diseases during pregnancy
  • the elimination of alcohol, certain drugs, and nicotine during pregnancy
  • immediate medical attention in case of an earache, hearing problems and sudden hearing loss

Treatment options for numbness

While the numbness in both ears usually leads immediately to medical attention, one-sided numbness is often treated less often. But this kind of hurt also creates severe disabilities in everyday life. Because people with only one ear cannot estimate the location, the direction and the removal of noise, they are particularly vulnerable to road traffic.

Even school problems can result from a one-sided deafness since background noise can hardly be blown out and the concentration considerably inhibited.

Both in the deafness in one ear and the complete numbness in both ears, medical and surgical measures can help. Under certain circumstances, a cochlear (inner ear) implant is possible for people with acquired deafness as well as children with congenital deafness.

Since developmental psychology assumes that first-language acquisition takes place predominantly and irretrievably in the first four years of life, implantation is recommended for deaf children from the age of two.

The implantation of a cochlear implant is always accompanied by a detailed rehabilitation, which includes intensive listening and speaking training. Also, it is advisable to learn the sign language in the case of an early deafness or from birth.

This can be used already in the communication with babies and helps already deaf babies and small children to communicate. For this reason, hearing parents of a deaf baby should also learn the sign language as soon as possible, since they can help them communicate with their child from the very beginning.

Conclusion

  • Distinguishing between congenital / acquired and absolute/practical deafness
  • deaf and deaf are often used synonymously
  • Numbness can be two-sided or one-sided
  • a cochlear implant can be used from the age of two
  • In addition to implantation, rehabilitation plays an important role with intensive listening and speaking training
  • Prevention against the development of numbness in the mother’s body or later life is hardly possible
  • Sign language can already be successfully used in babies

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