Congenital Hearing Loss
Congenital hearing loss is hearing loss that you’re born with. It might be due to a hereditary condition, an infection at birth, or something that happened during pregnancy.
Congenital hearing loss is one of the most common chronic conditions in children.
If you’ve had a baby In New Zealand, then your child will be offered a gentle newborn hearing screening within a few days of birth. According to the Ministry of Health, this test detects significant hearing loss in about 170 babies per year. Many of these have no family history or other known risk factors for hearing difficulties. The screening program helps to identify these babies early so they can benefit from early intervention to help their speech, language and social development.
If your baby is found to have hearing difficulties, then doctors will begin to search for the cause. It could be due to:
Genetic causes that have affected the hearing pathway in some way, such as
An infection such as cytomegalovirus around the time of birth
That allows doctors to classify your child’s type of hearing loss. It could be:
Conductive hearing loss, affecting the outer or middle ear
Sensorineural hearing loss, affecting the inner ear
Mixed hearing loss, which is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
Once the cause and type of hearing loss are established, doctors can decide the best treatment. That may include antimicrobial treatments, surgery, or hearing aids.
Mixed Hearing Loss
Even if you already have some diagnosed hearing loss, it’s important to see an audiologist if your hearing changes. That’s because you might have developed a new hearing issue that’s overlapping with your existing one. Sometimes there’s a short-term problem and a long-term one.
Mixed hearing loss happens when there are both conductive and sensorineural reasons for your hearing loss. You might have age-related hearing loss (sensorineural) at the same time as a middle-ear infection (conductive).
Your Ear Health audiologist is usually able to treat both conditions, which often leads to an improvement in your hearing.