Many older people experience the persistent noises of tinnitus (ringing in the ears), however few people realize it strikes kids too. Children 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.
There are many different conditions that can cause a person of any age to experience tinnitus. Among the many potential causes are circulatory problems, hearing loss from damaging noise, a build-up of wax in the ear canal, a misalignment in the jaw joints, and trauma to the neck and head. Slow-growing tumors on nerves in the face and ears can also cause tinnitus. Your family pediatrician can help rule out any specific ear problems. If your appointment does not uncover any obvious issues, your doctor will likely advise you to investigate further with an audiologist or ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist.
If the examination uncovers a specific reason for your child’s tinnitus, the issue can usually be alleviated by addressing the underlying problem. However, many kids and adults experience tinnitus without a clear cause. 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.
Your child may find that his or her tinnitus makes concentration difficult. 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. Hearing aids can be helpful for children with hearing loss by helping them filter out distractions and focus on important sounds.
Some kids experience emotional distress as a result of tinnitus. If this is the case with your child, it is important to be reassuring and supportive. Explain to your child that tinnitus is a common condition that many other kids and adults experience. Work with your doctors and experts to explain the problem to your child in a way he or she can understand. Some kids find that their tinnitus gets worse when they are under stress, so work with your child to find ways to manage stressful situations.
Finally, reassure your child (and yourself) that most kids outgrow tinnitus naturally. While tinnitus can be difficult to deal with, in time your child will likely overcome it.