Conductive hearing loss
More children in the western world visit the doctor because of middle ear disease than they do for any other problem. For some groups, the prevalence of conductive hearing loss is very high. Among groups of Aboriginal children, 50-90 % may have a hearing loss at any one point in time. Maori, Pacific Islanders, American Indians and the Inuit of Canada are other population groups that are known to have a high incidence of conductive hearing loss.
Middle ear disease (otitis media) can lead to a loss of conductive hearing. Fluid in the middle ear or a perforation of the ear-drum impairs the conduction of sound through the middle ear. This type of hearing loss is usually temporary, fluctuating and mild. It is most common among very young children but about a third of children in the first four grades of school have some degree of conductive hearing loss at any point in time. Often, the hearing problem is not noticed, but the identification of the problem is the critical first step in overcoming the difficulties that can result from a child's loss of conductive hearing.
Although often termed 'mild', this type of hearing loss can have important effects on educational results and social activity. For example, children may:
- find it difficult to learn things as school;
- face social problems;
- find it hard to keep friends;
- worry too much;
- behave in ways that 'tease' or irritate others; and
- feel isolated.
Persistent conductive hearing loss can lead to the development of Auditory processing problems.
The hearing test game: 'Blind Man's Simon Says' can help parents and teachers who want to find out if a child can't hear properly.
Persitent childhood middle ear disease can leave adults with some degree of permanent hearing loss. Many Indigenous adults have some degree of permanent, mostly mild to moderate hearing loss because of persitent middle ear disease during childhood. Recent work indicates that 60% of Indigenous adults experience hearing loss. This has important outcomes in education, employment and accessing services such as health care. The following video segments decribe social and emotional outcomes of conductive hearing loss. It is designed for Indigenous health and education workers.