An approach to hearing loss in children

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South African Family Practice

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University of Cape Town

Hearing loss in children is common and can be difficult to identify, especially in young children. There are a variety of pathologies involved in these children, which make the problem challenging to diagnose and manage. This update describes how new technologies have evolved over the last 10 years to assist in the early detection of hearing loss even in very young children. The article aims to highlight the role and assist the general practitioner in managing these children, so that effective intervention and rehabilitation can occur and the long-term benefit, namely that the children become functioning members of the hearing world, is achieved. This article is not a comprehensive review on the subject, but aims to remind the reader of risk factors and gives guidelines for the clinical assessment of a child with hearing loss. In addition, middle ear disease is also widespread and impacts significantly on the quality of life in this age group, and therefore these problems are also discussed for the sake of completeness. The Ivan Tom’s infant hearing screening programme based in Cape Town is presented as a pilot project for future universal neonatal screening projects in South Africa.