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Many adults experience the persistent noises caused by tinnitus (ringing in the ears), but few people realize it affects kids too. Kids are equally at risk for this potentially debilitating disorder. While adults can usually determine that the sounds they are hearing are abnormal, many kids assume the noise is a regular part of life. 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. Additionally, tinnitus can result from slow-growing tumors on nerves in the ears and face. Your family pediatrician can help rule out any specific ear problems. If there are not any obvious issues, you will likely be referred to an ear, nose, and throat specialist or audiologist for further investigation.

If the examination uncovers a specific reason for your child’s tinnitus, the issue can usually be alleviated by addressing the underlying problem. Unfortunately, many incidences of tinnitus are not associated with a specific issue. In this case, there is no way to eradicate the problem, so your focus should shift to helping your child cope with the sounds he or she is hearing.

Tinnitus can be distracting, making it difficult for your child to pay attention at home or at school. One way to combat this is to provide background noise. Run a fan or soft music in the background while your child is at home. If your child is suffering from hearing loss alongside tinnitus, a hearing aid can help her focus on important sounds and filter out distractions.

Some children experience emotional distress as a result of tinnitus. If this is the case with your child, it is important to be reassuring and supportive. Explain to your child that tinnitus is a common condition that many other children and adults experience. Ask your audiologist about how you can explain tinnitus to your child in a way that makes sense to them.Some kids find that their tinnitus gets worse when they are under stress, so work with your child to find ways to manage stressful situations.

Always keep in mind that many kids outgrow their tinnitus without intervention, so it may cease to be an issue. While it may be a nuisance now, with time your child can overcome it.