Now that the school year is underway in Houston, your kids will start bringing home report cards soon. If their grades are less than ideal, don’t automatically assume they’re slacking off. Sometimes, there is an underlying neurological issue for that low GPA: hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss affects the middle and/or outer ear and is the result of obstructions that prevent sound waves from entering the inner ear. One of the most common causes is otitis media (middle ear infections).
How common are ear infections?
Any parent of young children in Indianapolis can attest to just how common ear infections are! They are the most common reason for pediatrician visits and prescriptions in Indiana, affecting about 75 percent of children by the age of three. Left untreated, ear infections can lead to neural deficits and hearing difficulty in noisy environments, such as classrooms. Even after they have cleared up, communication difficulties might remain.
What is the link between hearing loss and learning?
“Chronic sound deprivation can lead to speech recognition difficulties consistent with cochlear synaptopathy, a condition also known as ‘hidden hearing loss,’” said Stéphane F. Maison, Ph.D., Principal Investigator and hearing scientist in the Eaton-Peabody Laboratories at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and an Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology Head-Neck Surgery at Harvard Medical School Accordingly in explaining the group’s study results. “Clinicians should consider providing amplification in the management of unilateral conductive hearing loss.”
What did Dr Mason’s study find?
Dr. Maison’s study retroactively examined the hearing profiles of 240 patients who had visited the audiology department at Massachusetts Eye and Ear for either acute or chronic conductive hearing loss. Individuals with long-term conductive hearing loss categorized as moderate to moderately severe had lower speech-recognition scores in the affected ear than the healthy one, even when the volume of speech was clearly audible.
Earlier research performed by Dr. Maison in 2015 found similar patterns; those studies showed that conductive hearing loss led to failure of the synaptic connections between the sensory cells of the inner ear and the auditory nerve in adult mice.
The sooner treatment is provided, the better the outcome
Many patients with single-sided hearing loss (impairment confined to one ear) skip treatment because they can still hear out of one ear, but this only worsens speech perception over time and increases the likelihood that the good ear will eventually be affected. Because of the link between asymmetric hearing loss and academic, social and behavioral problems in children, treatment is imperative.
Schedule an appointment as soon as you can if your child shows signs of hearing loss
The next time your child comes home with a report card that doesn’t put a smile on your face, you might consider making an appointment with an Indianapolis audiologist to see if their poor grades might be associated with a hearing problem.