Back-to-school

Your Back-to-School Hearing Health Checklist

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With back-to-school season heading your direction, we’re sure you have gathered many lists of supplies, like notebooks, pencils, and crayons that your child needs for school. While those are important for your child to learn their best, it’s also important that you consider what your child may need to either prevent hearing loss or help if they are already experiencing it.

Here is a quick list of some hearing health supplies for your child’s return to school:

  1. Written instructions/notebook with important information. If your child is already experiencing some hearing loss, wears a cochlear implant, or has a hearing aid, it can be vital to provide teachers and faculty/administrators with instructions on how your child’s device works and what to do in case it stops working. You can also provide instructions for ways to communicate with your child in case of emergencies – especially if you aren’t able to reach the school in time – or request specific seating for your child in the classroom.

  2. Hearing aid/cochlear implant accessories. Provide your child’s teacher with extra batteries, a dry kit, and cord clips for your child’s device, as well as instructions on how these items work. This will ensure there is already a backup plan in case anything happens to your child’s device during the school day.

  3. Noise cancelling headphones. To prevent hearing loss, you should discuss noise and music level with your child before they use their music devices. However, you can also make sure they wear noise cancelling headphones, instead of earbuds, in order to protect their hearing from elevated conversations and road noise while riding the bus. Your child can also wear these in other scenarios, like recess or music class if the environment is too loud.

  4. Hearing protection for sports. If your child is at the age to participate in contact sports or recess outside, you may want to get them ear protection for those times. A strong blow to the ear from a ball, hand, or other object can cause permanent damage to their ear drum and, ultimately, hearing loss. Wearing the proper protection can help prevent this from happening. If your child also participates in swimming during school hours, consider swimming ear plugs.

Be sure to speak with your child’s teachers often to ensure their devices have been working properly in the classroom and to make sure they’re in the best learning environment with respect to their hearing health.

Click here for more information on protecting your child’s hearing and here for signs of childhood hearing loss. If you believe your child may be experiencing hearing loss, sign your child up for a free hearing screening.

Middle Schooler Shows Hand Dryers Can Cause Hearing Loss

Nora Keegan, picture from  CBC news  via David Keegan.

Nora Keegan, picture from CBC news via David Keegan.

We’re gearing up for back-to-school season at Hearing Health Associates and want to help you protect your child’s hearing and make sure they learn their best at school. While steps can easily be taken to prevent hearing loss at home, we enjoyed reading this article about a 13-year-old girl who took her hearing health at school into her own hands.

Middle schooler Nora Keegan was curious about the hand dryers in her school system and wondered if they were possibly damaging her hearing or her peers’ hearing. She wanted to study this topic when she saw her fellow classmates holding their ears while trying to dry their hands and said that hand dryers hurt her ears, as well. She eventually decided to do a scientific study, and her findings were published in a scientific journal called Pediatrics & Child Health.

Nora’s study questioned whether or not hand dryers pose a risk to ear health, particularly in children. The study ended up proving that hand dryers can cause hearing loss because they operate at levels that are far louder than recommended, especially at a child’s height.

You can find more information about Nora Keegan and read her full findings here. We hope that schools pay close attention to Nora’s study and take appropriate measures to protect students’ hearing.

In the Back-to-School Hustle, Don’t Forget About Hearing!

Did you know that approximately five out of every 1,000 children have a hearing impairment, or that 25%-35% of kids with hearing loss in even just one ear risk failing a grade level?

Children learn a great deal through visual and auditory cues, so it’s imperative that their hearing and vision is checked regularly to help them reach their full potential.

We recommend that parents schedule a hearing test with an audiologist annually or at least every two years for the family – especially if your child has/had speech delays and/or learning disabilities. At the very least, we’d like to arm parents with the most common signs to watch for in school-aged children. These include:

  • Frequently turning up the TV, computer, phone or tablet
  • Having difficulty with phone conversations
  • Responding to questions inappropriately
  • Watching others closely to mimic their actions
  • Asking “what?” or “huh?” more often that what is normal for your child
  • Not responding when you call their name
  • Complaining of frequent earaches or headaches
  • Withdrawing academically or socially

Of course, every child is different. And, every parent knows their child best. But, if your child is experiencing two or more of the signs above and you have even the slightest hunch that it could be their hearing, please schedule a hearing screening with your family doctor or an audiologist! In the meantime, parents can help by:

  • Reducing Noise Exposure! - More than 5 million youth ages 6 to 19 have permanent hearing damage due to noise, one of the most preventable causes. Reducing noise from everyday devices, such as personal electronics, gaming systems, the car stereo, and the family TV, and providing hearing protection in noisy environments (e.g. concerts, firework shows, parades, loud stadiums) can help dramatically. A general rule of thumb for earbuds and headphones is if you are standing next to your child and can hear the noise, it’s too loud.
  • Talking to the Teachers/School - Teachers and administrators are crucial to helping kids hear their best during the school day, with classroom seating arrangements, loop systems, closed captioning, and other supportive options. They can also help identify possible signs of hearing loss if it’s suspected. 

We are here to listen and help! We offer free screenings, so if you suspect your child has a hearing loss, please contact us!