Exposure to ear infections, loud noises, and certain illnesses are common causes of hearing loss. But hearing loss can be present at birth, due to genetic traits passed down from the parents. Birth defects in the head and face can precipitate hearing loss. These conditions are known as craniofacial syndromes. They affect the development of the ear and often lead to hearing loss.
Did you know July is National Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness & Prevention Month? This action is dedicated to understanding how to prevent these conditions, raising awareness about these conditions, ensuring patients receive proper care, and removing the associated stigmas.
Facial syndromes and the ears
These syndromes can involve deformities of the ears and eliminate normal hearing. You can have underdeveloped or small ear canals or other parts of the middle or inner ear. Other syndromes heighten the possibility of middle ear effusion--the buildup of fluid--which can cause ear infections or other diseases--leading to hearing loss. Cleft palate, which is not connected to a syndrome, can even cause hearing loss--due to a greater risk of ear infections.
Treachers Collins syndrome, which is well known, can cause both hearing loss and cleft palate. Pierre Robin syndrome can trigger difficulty hearing, too. This condition causes malformation of the jaw and mouth, but ear effusion can occur and happens in about 83 percent of patients. Hemifacial macrosomia, Apert syndrome, Saethre-Chotzen syndrome, Crouzon syndrome, and velocardiofacial syndrome are craniofacial syndromes also affecting hearing.
Prevention and treatment
Women treated for thyroid disease or diabetes while pregnant, women given certain fertility drugs like clomiphene citrate, or women who smoke are at risk for having a baby with craniofacial disorder. Speak to your doctor about prevention and the possibilities for manifestation of such conditions.
Treatment for the syndromes can involve many doctors, depending upon the severity of the condition. The types of doctors involved might be speech pathologists, hearing care professionals, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, and ophthalmologists. Among the things that would need to be addressed are social, physical, and developmental challenges.
Hearing loss can be devastating, especially when it is accompanied by other problems, but awareness is key to understanding and treating such conditions.
For more information on hearing loss, please contact your hearing instrument specialist at Pure Sound Hearing Aids.