Hearing loss can be due to middle ear disease or inner ear disease. Your audiogram (hearing test) shows which type of hearing loss you have. Middle ear hearing loss is called conductive hearing loss. Inner ear hearing loss is called sensorineural hearing loss.
Hearing loss in children
It’s never too early to test hearing
All children in Victoria have a newborn hearing screen within a few days of being born. This screen aims to pick up the 1:1000 children who are born with severe hearing loss. These children need to have hearing aids or cochlear implant by 6-9 months of age, to to enable them to enjoy the same learning opportunities and quality of life as other children. For more information see Victorian infant hearing screening programme.
Hearing can be tested at any age
If you are concerned about your child’s hearing, book a hearing test. Parents, teachers, doctors and nurses can’t guess what a children’s hearing level is; sometimes we think hearing is down and it’s normal and other times we think hearing is normal and the child is really deaf. The only way to know is to do a test. It’s simple and easy for your and your child to have a hearing test.
Middle ear hearing loss
The commonest type of hearing loss in children is called conductive hearing loss. This is due to middle ear disease. Middle ear disease is often treatable and middle ear hearing loss usually improves with treatment. For more information see
Inner ear hearing loss
Inner ear hearing loss is also called sensorineural hearing loss. Hearing loss can affect one or both ears. Hearing aids work well for children with mild to moderate hearing loss. Children with severe to profound hearing loss may need a cochlear implant if hearing aids aren’t helpful enough.
Sensorineural hearing loss can start before birth (this is called congenital hearing loss) or after birth (this is called acquired hearing loss).
Children can develop hearing loss due to:
- Genetic hearing loss,
- Viral infections in utero (before birth) or after birth,
- Prematurity and jaundice,
- Head injury,
- Noise damage,
- Gentamicin, an antibiotic used to treat life threatening infections.
If your child has been diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss, you can use this checklist to keep track of how to help your child get the best out of life.
DIY online hearing screen for children and adults
Sound Scouts hearing screening app for children
Sound Scouts app has now been updated in both Apple Store and Google Play so that no charge applies when Australian parents download it. Schools and Health professionals may also download the app free of charge. Any child who receives a result that requires follow-up should have a formal hearing test with a qualified audiologist to confirm the result. The website has some good information for families.
Know your noise online hearing screen for adults
This is a hearing screening tool developed by the National Acoustics Laboratory for a quick online adult hearing check. If you receive an abnormal screening test, you should make an appointment for a formal hearing test with a qualified audiologist to confirm the result.
Hearing loss in adults
Middle ear hearing loss
Middle ear hearing loss is less common in adults. It may be improved with surgery. Causes include
- Otitis media with effusion (glue ear)
- Eustachian tube dysfunction
- A hole in the ear drum (tympanic membrane perforation)
Inner ear hearing loss
Inner ear hearing loss is also called sensorineural hearing loss. Most types of inner ear hearing loss aren’t reversible, unless the loss is sudden: IF YOU HAVE SUDDEN HEARING LOSS CONTACT YOUR DOCTOR ON THE SAME DAY. Treatment may restore your hearing, if started quickly.
Inner ear hearing loss can happen in one ear or both ears. Tinnitus is often a side effect of inner ear hearing loss.
Common causes for inner ear hearing loss are:
- Hearing naturally changes with age. Some people or families tend to lose hearing early than other people.
- Noise damage. Protect your ears from loud noise by using ear plugs or ear muffs when you are mowing, using power tools, guns or playing loud music.
- Genetic causes
- Meniere’s disease
Less common causes include head injury, meningitis, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, auto-immune inner ear disease and acoustic neuroma (benign tumour on the balance nerve affecting hearing).
Most types of inner ear hearing loss are symmetrical. This means hearing is the same in each ear. If your hearing loss is asymmetrical or worse in one ear, your surgeon may recommend an MRI to look for acoustic neuroma. Before you have an MRI, it can be helpful to watch a video of an MRI including the noises you will hearing during the MRI.
What’s new in 2019 with hearing aids?
With thanks to Georgina Cameron, Audiologist with Hearing Australia, Warrnambool.
There have been great advances in technology for hearing aids (CROS and BiCROS aids) for people with significant unilateral (one side) hearing losses and asymmetry in hearing (one side worse than the other). If you’ve tried aids like this before and not had success, this is a good time to find out more and try again.
Early intervention pathways and NDIS
Hearing Australia are rolling out a direct early intervention pathway between Australian Hearing and NDIS for newly referred young clients. This allows them to access funding for early intervention services immediately in order to achieve the best outcomes for these children.
People with extra needs
Hearing Australia also receives extra funding that no other provider has for Clients with extra needs. These include Clients with profound hearing losses (greater than 80dBHL in the better hearing ear), vision impairment + hearing loss, and other disabilities that affect the Client’s communication ability in conjunction with hearing loss – for example mental health concerns or dementia. Clients that fall under these categories should be encouraged to see Hearing Australia in order to access more funding for hearing aids and a program that includes communication training. We are now working directly with NDIS to make sure that these Clients are also accessing NDSI funding.
Hearing aid and other hearing technology trials and demonstrations
Clients who may benefit from hearing aids and do not yet have them can ask for a trial of hearing aid. Hearing Australia are also happy to demonstrate new technology to any aided Clients.