Many older people hear the persistent noises of tinnitus (ringing in the ears), but this condition isn’t constrained by age. Many children also experience the symptoms of tinnitus. Unlike adults, who can usually figure out that the noises they keep hearing are outside of the norm, children are more likely to assume that everyone hears these sounds. 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.
Should your child’s specialist find a specific issue that is causing the tinnitus, there is a good chance that the problem can be addressed and the condition eliminated. However, many children and adults experience tinnitus without a clear cause. If there is no clear cause, addressing the problem can be difficult, making it more constructive for you to focus on helping your child cope.
Tinnitus can be distracting, making it difficult for your child to pay attention at home or at school. 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 kids with hearing loss by helping them filter out distractions and focus on important sounds.
Tinnitus can cause some children to experience psychological distress. In this case it is important to be supportive and reassuring about the condition. 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 children 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 children outgrow tinnitus naturally. While tinnitus can be difficult to deal with, in time your child will likely overcome it.