Health Library

Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss is due to dysfunction of the outer or middle ear. This can often be medically corrected.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the cochlea or VIII cranial nerve. It can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired (induced by illness-, injury- or noise.) The degree of loss can be mild to profound. It most often cannot be reversed.

Mixed Hearing Loss

Mixed hearing loss has both conductive and sensorineural aspects.

Causes of Hearing Loss

Congenital Hearing Loss

  • This has a genetic cause in more than 50% of cases. Other causes include: prenatal infections, illness, toxins consumed by the mother when pregnant, or other conditions that occur around the time of birth.

Acquired sensorineural hearing loss

  • This can be caused by: ototoxic medicines, meningitis, head injury and noise exposure.

Acquired conductive hearing loss

  • This can be caused by: foreign objects in the ear canal, fluid in the middle ear, or involvement of the middle ear bones (ossicles).

Signs, Symptoms and Risk Factors

All newborns have a Universal Newborn Hearing Screen before leaving the hospital. Therefore, congenital hearing loss is often diagnosed soon after birth. But, parents should be aware that a child may acquire hearing loss later. The risk factors and symptoms of hearing loss are:

  • The child has a family member who has hearing loss.
  • The infant does not startle or cry at loud, sudden noise.
  • The child does not appear comforted by caregiver's voice.
  • The child does not respond to their name when called from behind.
  • The child relies on what they see and their normal routine for communication.
  • There is a delay in language comprehension and / or language expression.

Speech / Language Evaluation

When there is a known hearing loss, an evaluation is done through parent reports, watching the child play, and standardized testing. The child must wear their amplification device (hearing aids, FM system, cochlear implant) during this evaluation.

The speech-language pathologist works closely with other experts (audiologists, otolaryngologists, pediatricians and social workers) to make the plan for treatment.

Treatment for Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss must be managed with a team approach. Children may be equipped with hearing aids and / or FM systems. They may need therapy with an aural rehabilitation audiologist and / or speech-language pathologist. Cochlear implantation is an auditory / verbal communication mode option for children who don't benefit from hearing aids.

Cincinnati Children's

Cincinnati Children's has a comprehensive program for the treatment of hearing loss. This program is staffed by audiologists, physicians, social workers, and speech-language pathologists with specialty training.

We welcome referrals from primary care and specialty providers.

Contact Us

For more information, contact the Division of Audiology, 513-636-4236.

Last Updated 04/2019

Who treats this.

The Division of Audiology at Cincinnati Children’s is one of the largest pediatric audiology programs in the nation. Early intervention and active collaboration with your family can change the outcome for your child with a hearing problem.

Contact us.