How to Best Protect Your Child's Hearing
Celebrating 35 years of Caring for Your Hearing
|Meredy Hase tests a child, 1987||Kupperman and Hase work to license audiologists in Wisconsin, 1989|
Hearing Loss UNDER Age 65
We used to think of hearing loss as something that only happened to our grandparents' generation. But you'd be surprised at how many people your age, and even younger, have a hearing problem.
According to a study recently published by the Better Hearing Institute, two-thirds of Americans with hearing loss are under the age of 65 and still in the work force. That includes one of every six "Baby Boomers" (ages 41 to 59) and one of every 14 "Generation X'ers" (age 29-40).
According to Meredy Hase, Doctor of Audiology, "Hearing loss is by no means an 'old person's disease' any longer. Each day, we see people of all ages come into our offices concerned they may have a hearing problem.
"There's even solid evidence to support the fact that for working Americans, hearing loss impacts their ability to make a living, up to $12,000 in lost income per year." (See related article)
Dr. Hase urges anyone who thinks they, or a loved one, may have a hearing loss to contact The Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services without delay.
Auditory Deprivation refers to the fact that even though we "hear" with our ears, it's our brain that's the true organ of hearing.
When hearing loss is left untreated, the brain's ability to distinguish various sounds becomes less and less. Try to think of Auditory Deprivation as similar, in a sense, to muscles that atrophy when not used over a long period of time.
The reason Auditory Deprivation is important is that we have ample evidence proving how long people will wait before seeking help for a suspected hearing loss. Up to ten years, by some estimates.
In other words, the longer you wait to get help for your hearing loss, the less even the most advanced hearing instruments will be able to help you hear better. That's one more reason physicians recommend annual hearing checks as part of an overall health assessment.
The Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services can perform hearing screenings that take only a few minutes. Concerned individuals are urged to contact them at the first signs of hearing loss, such as an inability to understand conversations in a crowded room or having to turn up the TV volume in order to hear.
Hearing & Income Loss
After years of research, there is new evidence that links hearing loss and loss of income. A study released by the Better Hearing Institute in Alexandria, VA, proves that untreated hearing loss may impact household income by as much as $12,000 per year.
The study also shows that hearing loss, which affects more than 28 million Americans, two thirds of whom are still in the work force, results in an annual loss of more than $100 billion in wages and worker productivity. The good news is people who find help for their hearing loss can regain up to 50% of that lost income.
According to Meredy Hase, Doctor of Audiology, "One of the misconceptions about hearing loss is that it's 'an old person's ailment'. But we know that hearing loss crosses all income lines and impacts people of all ages".
The new "Open Ear" Digital hearing instruments are especially designed to help Baby Boomers feel more comfortable about wearing hearing instruments.
Anyone interested in receiving a FREE Demonstration of Open Fit hearing technology are urged to contact the Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services.
Hearing Loss & the Family
For years, both researchers and hearing healthcare professionals have known much about the causes of hearing loss and how it affects the person who suffers from it.
But not until recently has attention been paid as to the devastating effects hearing loss has on family members and friends as well. This past year alone, several organizations have weighed in with their findings on this often overlooked medical problem that by current estimates, affects the lives and families of more than 30 million Americans.
For example, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), a government agency whose task it is to research the lives of older Americans, released a study that confirms how often a person with hearing loss begins to feel isolated, eventually withdrawing from normal everyday activities and even from family and friends.
None of this is news, however, to Dr. Meredy Hase, who says, "I realized just how much hearing loss also affected family members when we''d spend so much time counseling them when we''d fit their loved one with hearing instruments".
The benefits of better hearing were the subject of an NBC report that aired on an installment of the NBC Nightly News. In that report, the testimonials of several patients and their families provided evidence of how lives can be changed for the good, once the decision has been made to seek help for a hearing problem.
Those interviewed talked about how experiences such as watching TV or enjoying conversations with loved ones - things that were not possible with hearing loss - were once again part of the everyday enjoyment of life. Social activities like dining at restaurants of going to the movies were also among the range of family life experienced through better hearing.
Thanks to recent advances in technology more help is available than ever before for those whose lives are affected by hearing loss. If left untreated, hearing loss will almost always become worse over time, another reason Dr. Hase urges people to contact the Doctors of Audiology at Hearing Services if a hearing loss is thought to exist.
More Hearing Healthcare News
Despite your best efforts, your kids are glued to their smartphones and tablets — and we bet you 10 bucks they have the volume cranked way too high.
Sharon Sandridge, PhD, Director of Clinical Services in Audiology, explains why — and how — you should help kids listen safely.
Hearing loss is common in older age. But it also happens to the young!
“Exposure to loud sounds causes one-third of all hearing loss — which means you can prevent it,” Dr. Sandridge says. “And the younger you start protecting hearing, the better.”
Loud sounds can damage hearing — but the amount of time you listen matters, too. We can safely listen to sounds at 85 decibels (dB) for up to eight hours a day, Dr. Sandridge says. That’s about the volume of city traffic. At max volume, smartphones and tablets can blare at 105 dB or more — a sound intensity that can damage ears in as little as five minutes. (Gulp.)
If you can hear sounds coming from your child’s earpiece when standing an arm’s length away, that’s a good clue it’s dangerously loud, Dr. Sandridge says.
Tech to the rescue: Sound-level meter apps
In general, it’s tough to judge decibel levels on your own. But, no surprise — there’s an app for that.
Sound level meter apps measure noise levels to help you (and your kids) stay in the safe zone.
Those tools can be great, Dr. Sandridge says — if they’re accurate. The apps aren’t regulated, so you can’t always assume they’re as good as they claim.
For an app you can trust, she recommends the NIOSH Sound Level Meter App, available (for free!) from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Choosing safe kids’ headphones
Keeping tabs on volume is the easier part. The next-to-impossible part? Getting kids to turn down the dial when it’s too loud. Choosing the right headphones can make that job less stressful.
“Kids tend to crank up the volume with earbuds because they want to hear it all over the ambient noise,” Dr. Sandridge says. “They run the risk of listening at a higher intensity.”
Plain old earbuds are small and portable. But standard earbuds aren’t very good at blocking out the sounds around us.
Also called occluding earbuds, isolating earbuds form a tight seal inside the ear canal to block out the surrounding noise. When kids don’t have to tune out the sounds of traffic or teasing siblings, they can focus on Ariana Grande’s lyrics at a safe volume. (Just poke them when you want their attention.)
A word of caution: Occluding earbuds also reduce important warning sounds like car horns, so they’re not a good choice if your child listens to music outside.
Young kids often find these more comfortable than earbuds. Many parents assume headphones are also safer since they don’t get as close to the eardrum.
Not true, according to Dr. Sandridge.
Their larger size means they can deliver sounds at a higher volume. So, as with any headphones, you’ll still have to keep an eye on the dial.
Both earbuds and over-the-ear headphones come in volume-limiting styles. These listening devices keep sound levels below the danger level, so they’re a great choice for kids who tend to crank up the volume (which is to say, almost all kids).
Safe listening is a parent’s job
Whatever you choose, it’s worth going to the trouble to make sure your kids’ ears are safe.
“Kids are fearless and they don’t think about hearing loss,” Dr. Sandridge says. “If you help them listen safely today, you’ll protect their hearing for tomorrow.”
Article originally appeared on Cleveland Clinic.