Posted on Thursday, March 03, 2016

It's International Ear and Hearing Day!


March 3rd is International Ear and Hearing Day AKA World Hearing Day! It's time to take notice of those adorable sound catchers perched on the side of your head. Or what hearing health professionals like to call ears. International Ear and Hearing Day is sponsored by the World Health Organization to bring attention to hearing loss issues not just in the USA but around the world.

Launched in Beijing in 2007, International Ear and World Hearing Day picks a theme every year and tries to bring global attention to that theme. Last year a seminar was organized in Geneva and the theme was Make Listening Safe. For 2016 the theme is Childhood Hearing Loss: act now here is how!

The goal of this year's theme, according to WHO, "The day aims to raise awareness about public health strategies to reduce the prevalence and impact of [childhood] hearing loss." From Kenya, to Nigeria, to Nepal, Pakistan, the Phillipines, Qatar, and here in the USA--to name just a few places--people will participate in activities or simply spread the word. Friends, family, coworkers, and educators are often unaware of or on the lookout for childhood hearing loss. Here are a few important facts that are bound to make you the hit of Facebook, Twitter, the PTA, and the office break room.

  • Children with hearing loss tend to prefer isolation over socializing.
  • "2.6 million children in the United States alone will experience at least one bout of otitis media severe enough to cause a brief, mild conductive hearing loss before reaching five years of age.”Science Daily
  • It is not uncommon for permanent hearing loss to be caused by chronic ear infections.
  • 1.1 billion young people worldwide are at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe use of personal audio devices such as smartphones and MP3 players and exposure to damaging levels of sound.
  • 12,000 babies are born each year with hearing loss; making childhood hearing loss the number one birth defect in the United States.
  • Studies have shown hearing loss even in only one ear can affect a child’s cognitive, social, and emotional development at nearly the same rate as bilateral hearing loss.
  • Hearing aids have been fitted on children as young as three months old.
  • Childhood hearing loss can be misdiagnosed as ADD or dismissed as a behavioral or learning problem.
  • Common Causes of Childhood Hearing Loss:

  • Otitis Media: Ear infection or otitis media can result in children not hearing in a range from mild to extreme hearing loss. The condition is due to the inflammation of the middle ear which is commonly associated with a buildup of fluid that is sometimes infected.
  • Ear Wax: Ear wax is normal in ears and in most cases does not need to be cleaned, but it can become impacted making it difficult for a child to hear. Impacted ear wax should be removed by a hearing health professional through irrigation, special instruments, or careful suction.
  • Otosclerosis: Otosclerosis is an abnormal bone growth in the middle ear. Over time this bone growth can hinder a child's ability to hear. Otosclerosis is one of the top causes of middle ear hearing loss in younger people. Medication or vitamin D can slow this hearing loss down.
  • A Perforated Eardrum: A perforated eardrum is often the result of inserting something into the ear, a sporting injury, explosive noise, or head injury.
  • Noise: The most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss is exposure to loud noise. Note: Toys are not regulated for sound, and some sounds can be delivered at dangerous decibel levels.
  • Congenital: Hearing loss is the most common anomaly at birth. In the past, children born with hearing loss were often not diagnosed before two years of age. Recently, hospitals have begun to implement hearing screening programs for all newborns.
  • Ototoxicity: Also referred to as ear poisoning causes damage to the inner, outer, or middle ear. It is the result of taking certain medications or from exposure to dangerous chemicals--like those found in chemotherapy.
  • So spread the word on Facebook and Twitter and at the office break room! Many parents remain unaware of childhood hearing loss or have no idea that they should be having their kids tested annually. Having your child's ears tested, arguably, could be as important or more important than testing your child's eyesight, because hearing loss is often difficult to detect in children and can be misdiagnosed as ADD or normal childhood inattention.

    If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

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