ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) AND HEARING LOSS



ADHD affects 2-7% of children globally, while prevalence in india is higher than global estimate at 11.32% with males affected more (66.7%) than females. To count, annually 10 million Indian children are diagnosed with ADHD.


As denoted in short form as well ADHD is a disorder, not a disease. ADHD is collection of symptoms, which can mimic other disorder such as hearing loss. ADHD comes under psychiatric condition and includes following symptoms-

Its important to understand that not all children with ADHD are same

  1. Some are way more active than other children. This is called being hyperactive.
  2. Some may do things without thinking about the consequences happening later. This is called being impulsive
  3. Some just simply have trouble paying attention or may also have a hard time focusing on one thing at a time. This is called being inattentive
  4. Some have problem with short term memory for eg. sometimes they may forget something just told to them or something what they wanted to say.

Some children may have all of these problems. Other children only have some of them. But majority children with ADHD have these symptoms as per DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition)-

  1. Fails to pay close attention to detail or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities
  2. Has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or activities
  3. Does not appear to listen when spoken to
  4. Does not follow through on instructions and does not finish tasks
  5. Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  6. Avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort (e.g. homework)
  7. Is easily distracted


Hearing loss

In India hearing is one sense that is often overlooked medically. In fact, hearing is something very essential to social, emotional, and cognitive development. Her are symptoms of Hearing loss in school-age children-

  1. Inattentiveness
  2. Inappropriate responses to questions
  3. Daydreaming
  4. Trouble following directions
  5. Speech problems

Young adults/teens, one of the last things they’re thinking of is protecting their hearing and they are also at a high risk for noise induced hearing loss because of choices like standing too close to speakers at concerts, listening to music at very loud levels, not wearing hearing protection at loud sporting events. You may Look for these signs for hearing loss:

  • Turning up the television to an excessive volume
  • Saying “what” frequently
  • Only responding during eye contact
  • Complaining of hearing loss
  • Withdrawing socially

So, how can parents say if their child has hearing loss or ADHD? It has been observed children who are diagnosed with ADHD who never get a good hearing test and later are diagnosed with mild hearing loss or in opposite situation in which a child has ADHD but their symptoms are attributed to the hearing loss. Many times even professionals be fooled in both directions.

These symptoms of hearing loss are commonly confused with hearing loss-
  1. Poor performance in school
  2. Not paying attention
  3. Not answering when spoken to
  4. Getting frustrated and Acting out
  5. Improper responses to questions
  6. Poor self esteem
  7. Struggle during social interactions

The Importance of Early Detection

By early detection we can avoid the delays in speech and language development, which help in learning, and improving school performance. We can improve their social skills and confidence which are essential in setting up a child for future survival.

Key factor to success is early and professional diagnosis and sequential management by a team of experienced healthcare professionals. Consult an ENT doctor for complete audiological evaluation in case you suspect hearing loss. Diagnosis of ADHD is based on behavior checklist, if you suspect your child might have ADHD consult a pediatrician or a psychologist. In cases where hearing loss has been diagnosed, note the effectiveness of management programs and if there is no improvement in child's behavior and academic performance it is advised to then begin testing for ADHD. By team approach we can sort the underlying reason for child’s behavior and can recommend the most effective course of action.