Midweek Motivator: Signs of hearing loss in children and adults

The unfortunate part of hearing loss is when an individual has hearing loss, typically they don’t get it back. However, there are ways to improve it.

A man having his ears checked.
A hearing test is the best way to identify hearing loss or ways to improve it.
Contributed / Metro Newspaper Service

What? Can you speak up? Can we go somewhere that is quiet? I hate that place because it is too noisy! These are often comments from individuals that are experiencing or suffering hearing loss. May is Better Speech and Hearing Month and what better time to discuss the signs and symptoms of hearing loss!

There are three types of hearing loss:

  1. Conductive: which involves the outer or middle ear.
  2. Sensorineural: which involves your inner ear. 
  3. Mixed: which is the mix of the two types: conductive and sensorineural. 
Laure Bye
Laure Bye

Despite age, gender, and/or medical history, these types of hearing loss all have similar signs. They include:

  • Failure to respond to sounds or voices in and around them.
  • Delayed speech and hearing development in children (“Late Talkers”)
  • Poor grades in their academics (particularly in language arts).
  • Trouble hearing the letters of the alphabet that aren't vowels; specifically in words that have P, T, K, F, S, Ch, Sh in them). 
  • Often asking others to speak more slowly, clearly, and loudly.
  • Asking for multiple repetitions (particularly, women and children’s voices). 
  • Asking for written information instead of hearing information from others.
  • Finding the need to be in the same room or looking at the individual directly to have a conversation. 
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio.
  • Completely avoiding some social settings.
  • The individual experiencing hearing loss has speech described as quiet, mumbled, incomplete, or “lazy” speech. 
  • Being bothered or showing increased frustration in settings with background noise.
  • Experiencing sporadic or consistent ringing in the ears, known as tinnitus.

The unfortunate part of hearing loss is when an individual has hearing loss, typically they don’t get it back! However, there are ways to improve it. A hearing test is the best way to identify hearing loss or ways to improve it. Newborns should be tested for hearing loss and deafness shortly after birth to start receiving therapy quickly, since intervention within the first six months can prevent developmental and social difficulties. Regardless of age, once established with a hearing loss and the reason for the hearing loss; there are ways to improve it. Hearing aids, assisted listening devices, medical intervention and/or cochlear implants are just a couple ways to improve it. I am aware that hearing aids and medical intervention are costly; however, don’t wait. Better yet, try to prevent it.
How to prevent it? Know what is risky! Loud noises, in quick bursts or over time, can impact individuals’ hearing. Sounds exceeding 85 decibels — a level that can easily be surpassed by rock concerts, sporting events, firearms, gas lawn mowers and snow blowers, and fireworks displays — can be hazardous even in short bursts. For comparison, handheld hair dryers are about 77 to 92 decibels. Block out these types of sound with ear plugs or ear protection. Use headphones wisely, even if you like the music! Make sure your ears stay clear. This means ensuring that nothing is blocking the ear canal, such as impacted earwax. Be cautious though not to put anything sharp in your ear. This could cause injury. Allow your children and young adults to participate in the routine hearing screenings in school. Lastly, everyone should continue to complete routine hearing assessments through a registered audiologist in your area. If you are experiencing hearing loss, your loved one denies their hearing loss, or you’re concerned about the communication development of your child reach out to your primary care provider at your local hospital or medical setting. They will help you find the path to success. We have one life to live — better to hear it if you can!

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