*Common Questions Regarding Tinnitus and Hyperacusis in Children



Do children have tinnitus or hyperacusis?

Yes. Children can be born with tinnitus and/or hyperacusis or develop either of these conditions. Pediatric tinnitus is not uncommon.

How do children acquire tinnitus or hyperacusis?

In the same manner than adults do: these conditions can be related to noise trauma, head injury, drug reaction, virus or allergic reactions, auto-immune disorders, chronic ear infection, hearing loss, disease processes, brain injury, drug exposure, etc.

How do children report tinnitus?

Children born with or who develop tinnitus at a very young age may not be aware that hearing a phantom auditory signal is unusual.  Often, children are unable to verbalize this sensation until school age (5 or 6).  Young children do not have the vocabulary or expressive abilities to communicate their symptoms.

What behaviors might give clues to this condition?

Behaviors cited in other studies have shown behavior problems with poor attention and concentration, depression, insomnia, restlessness, lack of focus, and chronic ear disorders (like constant ear infections).

What are signs of hyperacusis in children?

Children's ears in general are much more sensitive to noise than adults due to their much better hearing ability, and often, children will cry or fuss upon exposure to loud noises. Parents need to be alert to children who respond negatively to everyday sound levels including clanking dishes, barking dogs, traffic noises, or common sounds such as refrigerators running or air conditioner humming. Children and infants with this condition may fall down, cry, cover their ears, or scream loudly.

What can be done for suspected cases?

A thorough evaluation by a tinnitus and hyperacusis specialist is in order, and most often you will need a referral from your pediatrician or primary care physician. Depending on the age and abilities of the child, different tests will be performed to judge the degree and severity of the conditions. Several sessions may be required to complete the tests. A thorough briefing by the audiologist or specialist is in order to educate the parents or care givers about these conditions and remedies.

What ages have you seen in your clinic for pediatric tinnitus?

At this clinic, we have evaluated children from ages 4 to 18 who have tinnitus and/or hyperacusis. Several children are now in treatment and progressing very well.

Does tinnitus or hyperacusis ever go away completely?

There are instances where this happens, but for the majority of individuals who suffer from tinnitus, the condition will not disappear. Therapies for these conditions focus on habituation, or environmental remediation. Patients and their parents may find significant relief by contacting and enrolling in a treatment clinic where the specialist has received certification in Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) as developed by Dr. Pawel Jastreboff in 1985.

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