A number of adults experience the constant noises of tinnitus, but few people realize it strikes children too. Kids are equally at risk for this potentially debilitating disorder. While adults can usually determine that the sounds they are hearing are abnormal, many children assume the noise is a regular part of life. If your child shows signs of tinnitus it is important to look into it to rule out any underlying condition.
Tinnitus is caused by a number of different conditions in both adults and children. The disorder is linked to wax build-up in the ear canal, problems in the circulatory system, misaligned jaw joints, noise-induced hearing loss, and head and neck trauma. Additionally, tinnitus can result from slow-growing tumors on nerves in the ears and face. Your family pediatrician can help rule out any specific ear problems. If there are not any obvious issues, you will likely be referred to an ear, nose, and throat specialist or hearing instrument specialist for further investigation.
Should your child’s specialist find a specific issue that is causing the tinnitus, there is a good chance that the problem can be addressed and the condition eliminated. Unfortunately, many incidences of tinnitus are not associated with a specific issue. In this case, there is no way to eradicate the problem, so your focus should shift to helping your child cope with the sounds he or she is hearing.
Tinnitus can be distracting, making it difficult for your child to pay attention at home or at school. Background noise is an effective way to fight back against this problem. Consider playing soft music or running a fan when your child needs to concentrate. If your child is suffering from hearing loss alongside tinnitus, a hearing aid can help her focus on important sounds and filter out distractions.
Tinnitus can cause some children to experience psychological distress. In this case it is important to be supportive and reassuring about the condition. Make sure your child understands that tinnitus is a common problem that affects many other children. Ask your hearing instrument specialist about how you can explain tinnitus to your child in a way that makes sense to them.Take steps to help your child deal with stressful situations, as many children find that stress can make their tinnitus symptoms much worse.
Finally, reassure your child (and yourself) that most kids outgrow tinnitus naturally. While it may be a nuisance now, with time your child can overcome it.