Spot the Signs of Hearing Loss

Hearing Problems

In babies and toddlers

Your child should undergo newborn hearing screening in the first few weeks of life. This is the most important way to spot a hearing impairment early. However, some children may pass the newborn hearing screening test but experience hearing loss that gets progressively worse, so it’s also important to be alert for warning signs. Here’s a rough guide to how your child’s hearing and speech should develop:

Speech Development Guide

by age group

first_few_months

First few months

  • Startles in response to a sudden loud sound such as a handclap or a door slamming
  • Responds to sounds, music or voices
  • Is soothed by soft sounds or familiar voices

By six months:

  • Tries to imitate sounds
  • Turns quickly or directly toward a soft noise or ‘sh’

By 9 to 12 months:

  • Begins to babble or responds by babbling when others speak to them
  • Varies their pitch when babbling
By one year

By one year:

  • Startles in response to a sudden loud sound such as a handclap or a door slamming
  • Responds to sounds, music or voices
  • Is soothed by soft sounds or familiar voices
By 18 months

By 18 months:

  • Makes speech-like sounds with conversational-type rhythm when playing
  • Uses six to 20 recognisable words and tries to join in nursery rhymes and songs
two years

By two years:

  • Uses 50 or more recognisable words appropriately
  • Puts two or more words together to make simple sentences such as ‘more milk’
  • Joins in nursery rhymes and songs
three years

By three years:

  • Has a large vocabulary intelligible to everyone[1]

If you’re concerned about your child’s hearing, consult your GP or health visitor. You can also find out more about tests for babies.

In children

Hearing Problems In children

Around one in every 1,000 children is severely or profoundly deaf at three years old but this figure has doubled by the time children reach nine to 16 years. Your child may have a hearing problem if they:

  • Are slow to learn to talk or miss out parts of words, for instance saying ‘oo’ instead of ‘shoe’ or ‘how’ instead of ‘house’
  • Often ask you to repeat yourself or respond inappropriately to a question
  • Don’t reply when you call them
  • Often talk very loudly
  • Often turn up the volume of the TV so it’s very loud
  • Look intently at you when you speak
  • Watch others to copy instructions, because they haven’t heard[2]

In adults

Hearing Problems In adults

You or someone else may have a hearing problem if:

  • You find it hard to follow conversations in groups or in noisy places such as bars or restaurants
  • You struggle to hear on the phone
  • You think that others mumble and often need to ask them to repeat themselves
  • Others complain that you don’t listen
  • Others complain that the TV is too loud
  • You find it difficult to tell which direction noise is coming from
  • You find it tiring to listen to conversations because of having to concentrate hard

If you wake up with a sudden loss of hearing in one ear or lose the hearing in one ear within a couple of days, see your GP urgently. If you think you may be gradually losing your hearing, your GP can give you an ear examination to rule out blockages, signs of infection or other abnormalities and can refer you to an audiologist for hearing tests and diagnosis.

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