Hearing Loss and Educational Delay in teenagers

Hearing Loss and Educational Delay in teenagers

Hearing loss is a partial or total loss of the ability to hear. This can be temporary or permanent, and it can happen in one or both ears. Hearing problems can make it difficult to communicate and can interfere with your education.

Common causes of hearing loss that may affect your education include:

  • Too much wax or fluid in the ear over a long period of time.
  • Frequent ear infections.
  • Injury to the ear or the area surrounding the ear.
  • An object stuck in the ear.
  • Prolonged exposure to loud sounds, such as music.

How can hearing loss affect me in school?

Having good hearing is important for learning, especially for learning complex concepts in middle school or high school. You may struggle with:

  • Hearing and understanding others, particularly teachers.
  • Answering questions.
  • Following instructions.
  • Following conversations, especially in large rooms that have background noise, such as the cafeteria. You may often ask people to repeat things.
  • Learning and understanding enough words, especially in foreign language classes.
  • Participating in activities or sports.

You may not be able to do work that is required (not perform at grade level), or you may lose interest in school because of your hearing loss.

What actions can I take to lower my risk of educational delay?

  • Watch for signs that may indicate that you are having trouble hearing, such as:
    • Symptoms of an ear infection. Symptoms may include ear pain, rubbing or pulling at the ears, dizziness or loss of balance, or fluid draining from the ears.
    • Not responding to or understanding sounds or speech spoken at a normal volume.
    • Buzzing or ringing in the ear.
  • Get hearing tests (hearing screenings) as often as recommended. Hearing screenings are often offered by schools, community centers, and your health care provider.
  • Start treatment for hearing loss as early as possible. Starting treatment early can help prevent or reduce educational delay. Talk with your health care provider about what treatment options are best for you.
  • Take steps to prevent hearing loss from getting worse:
    • Get medical treatment for ear infections right away.
    • Use ear plugs or noise-reducing headphones when you listen to electronic devices and when you are at places with loud sounds, such as concerts or sporting events.
    • Use ear protection when using power tools or equipment such as lawn mowers.
    • Monitor the volume on your electronic devices. If you wear headphones, make sure that the noise is only loud enough for you to hear. If someone else can hear it, it is too loud.
    • Stay away from loud noises and secondhand smoke.
  • Work with your parents, teachers, and education specialists to make an education program (Individualized Education Program, IEP) that is right for you. Your IEP will be as similar to your normal school environment as possible (least restrictive environment). Your IEP may include using special equipment in the classroom to help you hear, or getting help from specialists.
  • Learn as much as you can about your condition and the services provided by your school.

Where to find support

To find support for preventing educational delay due to hearing loss:

  • Talk with your health care providers and teachers. Ask about hearing screenings, support services, and ways to keep you from falling behind at school.
  • Consider joining an online or in-person support group.

Seek Additional Information

Learn more about hearing loss and educational delay from:


  • Having good hearing is important for you to be able to learn and succeed at school.
  • Get hearing screenings as often as directed.
  • Starting treatment early can help prevent or reduce educational delay.
  • Find out what services your school provides to help you. This may include developing an IEP.

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