Next Steps After Hearing Loss Diagnosis

If the cause of hearing loss is known, we can help parents know what to expect and what to do. A team of medical professionals who specialize in the diagnosis of hearing loss in children can often help you find the answer to what caused the hearing loss. These medical professionals routinely see many children with a wide variety of causes for their hearing losses.

Your primary care provider should be able to provide you the names of audiologists, otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat/ENT) doctors and genetic specialists in your area.

What Should I Expect During My First Visit with a Medical Specialist?

There are two goals for the first visit:

  1. Determine the cause of the hearing loss, or narrow down the list of possible causes
  2. Determine if medical treatment should begin and the nature of that treatment

Why is a Specific Diagnosis for Hearing Loss Helpful?

Specific hearing loss diagnoses can help:

  • Determine if medical needs in other areas should be pursued
  • Determine if the hearing loss is likely to be progressive
  • Direct educational and early intervention services
  • Predict whether another child will be born with hearing loss

Using Genetic Tests to Find the Cause

Genetic testing is constantly being updated and is best accomplished under the direction of a genetics healthcare provider. The doctor or genetic counselor may recommend other tests such as an EKG or ultrasounds. The cause of the hearing loss is determined through:

  • Review of your pregnancy and delivery
  • Reviewing family medical history including both parents and relatives
  • Physical exam
  • Interpretation of audiological (hearing) tests
  • Ophthalmology (eye) examinations
  • Imaging studies of the ear (especially the temporal bones) including CT and MRI
  • Genetic tests that require blood or urine samples
  • Vestibular (balance) tests

The information from these areas will provide additional pieces of the puzzle to help identify the cause of the hearing loss. If the information cannot confirm the cause, it should provide enough clues to determine both what the cause of the hearing loss IS NOT and what the cause of the hearing loss MIGHT BE.

From a geneticist's point of view, the cause of hearing loss will fall into one of three broad categories:

  1. Unknown
  2. Non-genetic
  3. Genetic 

This is an important first step; it focuses the attention of the investigation into areas that might reveal the cause of the hearing loss AND it saves time, energy, and money by preventing tests that are not likely to reveal the true answer.

In Summary:

  • You should expect to be asked questions about your child's and family's medical history.
  • You can expect to have additional medical testing recommended.
  • If additional testing is done, you should expect to have another visit scheduled to discuss the results of that testing.
  • Depending on how much information is obtained during the first visit, a cause for your child's hearing loss may be identified. If medical treatment is recommended, this may also begin.‚Äč