Hearing impairments include partial hearing and deafness. Deafness may be defined as a loss sufficient to make auditory communication difficult or impossible without amplification. There are four types of hearing loss. Conductive hearing losses result from diseases or obstructions in the outer or middle ear and are usually helped with a hearing aid. Sensorineural losses arise from damage to the sensory hair cells of the inner ear or the nerves that supply it and may not respond to a hearing aid. Mixed hearing losses are those in which the problem occurs both in the outer or middle ear and in the inner ear. A central hearing loss results from damage to the nerves or brain.

A child with a possible hearing problem may appear to strain to hear, ask to have questions repeated before giving the right answer, demonstrate speech inaccuracies (especially dropping the beginnings and endings of words), or exhibit confusion during a discussion. Detection and diagnosis of hearing impairments have become very sophisticated. It is possible to detect the presence of hearing loss and evaluate its severity in a newborn child.

Otitis Media and the effects on your child's hearing

Acute otitis media is an inflammation (irritation and swelling with presence of extra immune cells) and/or infection of the middle ear. Acute otitis media refers to a short and severe episode. (Persistent or recurrent middle ear infection is called chronic otitis media.


Acute otitis media (acute middle ear infection) is most common in children. It occurs when there is bacterial or viral infection of the fluid of the middle ear, causing the production of pus or excess fluid. This may be accompanied by bleeding in the middle ear.

Ear infections are more common in children because their Eustachian tubes are shorter, narrower, and more horizontal than in adults. Chronic ear infections are much less common than acute ear infections.


A chronic ear infection may be more destructive than an acute ear infection because its effects are prolonged or repeated, and it may cause permanent damage to the ear. However, a chronic, long-term infection may show less severe symptoms -- so the infection may remain unnoticed and untreated for long periods of time.