Hearing Loss

A few causes of hearing loss are treatable in infants and children. If a child has a temporary hearing loss due to an ear infection, fluid behind the eardrum or excessive wax in the ear canal, their pediatrician or an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose and throat specialist) can most likely treat the condition successfully. Other cases of hearing loss are caused by problems with the bone structures in the middle ear, and these can sometimes be treated surgically when the child is older, around 7 to 9 years old.

Sensorineural hearing loss, which is typically permanent hearing loss that's caused by a disorder affecting the cochlea or the auditory nerve, usually can't be treated with medication or surgery. However, it can be managed successfully with help from an audiologist and other experts. In addition, it's imperative that doctors fully evaluate children with hearing impairment for other disorders, including visual or kidney defects.

Managing Permanent Hearing Loss

There are many options in managing permanent hearing loss, and your audiologist will provide you with information and resources to help you make the best decisions for your child. Some of these options include:

  • Amplification
  • Communication options, such as oral language, sign language or a combination of both
  • Educational options, such as programs emphasizing listening and speaking, sign language or a combination
  • Speech and language therapy

There's no one correct choice when it comes to managing your child's hearing loss. Our pediatric audiologists will help you make choices with all the information possible. It's important to remember that the choices you make for your child may change as your child develops.

Correcting Permanent Hearing Loss

Hearing aids and cochlear implants are two options available for some children, depending on their degree of hearing loss.

In general, children with mild to severe hearing loss are candidates for using hearing aids. Children with severe to profound hearing loss who don't benefit enough from hearing aids may be candidates for a cochlear implant.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers


Pediatric Audiology Clinic
1825 Fourth St., Fifth Floor, 5C
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-2101
Appointment information

Cochlear Implant Center at Mission Bay
1825 Fourth St., Fifth Floor, 5C
San Francisco, CA 94158-2351
Phone: (415) 353-2464
Fax: (415) 353-2603
Appointment information

Cochlear Implant Center at Mount Zion
2380 Sutter St., First Floor
San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: (415) 353-2464
Fax: (415) 353-2603
Appointment information

Key Treatments