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How Loud is Too Loud?

Sunday, August 18, 2019 11:05:11 PM Asia/Calcutta

You may be a great music lover and love to keep your favourite playlist running on for hours with your headphones put one. You love to dance to its rhythm and be absolutely lost in your own world. But do you know that even that lovely tune is harmful to your ears?

Each day we are exposed to harmfully loud sounds - be it traffic, loudspeakers on the streets, construction equipment, televisions, and the like - which means a constant attack to our ears and hence our precious hearing! Most of the times you get tempted by those loud songs and end up being exposed to high decibels of noises, such as going to a rock concert, burning firecrackers in celebration or during Diwali - our favourite festival of lights, blowing the horn in impatience while travelling to office, or as simple as turning the TV or radio volume or playing some music player at the comfort of your room. All these little activities might greatly increase the risks of hearing loss and it’s high time that you must be cautious.

Yes, there are advanced methods of hearing loss treatment today - be it high quality digital hearing aids packed with a host of smart and intelligent features or cochlear implants, which are designed to provide you the best listening experience, but the harsh reality is no treatment of hearing loss can ever bring back your natural hearing, once it’s gone! And in most cases, noise-induced hearing loss or NIHL is permanent in nature and the damage remains forever. A good hearing aid machine can only amplify the sound for you and do nothing more!

 

How Will You Know If You Are at Risk of Hearing Loss?

Did anyone ever tell you to turn down the volume of your music in your headphones, or your television or radio? If yes, then do listen to them; they might be right! It is simply because the music which you feel is okay or you are comfortable in, might be too loud for others. Now before you turn up the volume again, learn how loud is really very loud for your ears? And what is the safe listening duration for each decibel of sound? Here’s a table describing each sound decibel along with their sources.

 

Noise Source

    dB   

  Safe Exposure Time

  Effect on Humans

Whisper

30

Infinite

None

Rain

50

Infinite

None

Dishwasher

60

Infinite

None

Food Mixer

70

Infinite

None

Washing Machine

80

Infinite

None

Traffic

85

8 hours

Risk

Lawnmower

90

2 hours

Risk

Power Tools

100

15 minutes

Injurious

Chainsaw

110

2 minutes

Injurious

Jackhammer

120

15 seconds

Injurious

Ambulance Siren

130

0 seconds

Dangerous

Firecrackers

140

0 seconds

Dangerous

Gunshot

165

0 seconds

Dangerous

 

When to Seek Help?

While some noises can be avoided easily, others are not in your hand. In such a case where you can’t help it but be exposed to these loud noises, do consider self-protecting your ears with the help of earplugs or earmuffs. Do consider carrying them wherever you go, because in certain situations you are really going to need them.

However, if you do find certain hearing problems, do get a hearing test done immediately. Learn about the signs and symptoms of hearing loss in our previous blog: ‘Hearing Loss: Early Signs and Treatment’.

Depending on how loud the sound is and how long the duration of exposure is, you can be at risk of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). While some noises can cause mild to moderate hearing loss, other extremely loud ones can cause severe to profound loss - thereby, damaging your hearing permanently.

But there is nothing to panic in such a case. There are so many advanced hearing loss treatment technologies like digital hearing aids or cochlear implants, which are both highly effective and risk-free.

Learn about some cool must-have features in the modern-day digital hearing aids, if you are planning to buy one: ‘7 Must-have Features in Your Digital Hearing Aids’.

Consult a certified Audiologist before making a decision, and get your hearing checked from a recognised hearing aid clinic from time to time. Based on your test results your Audiologist will decide the best solution for you in case you are diagnosed with a hearing loss.

Protect Your Unborn Baby Against Hearing Loss

Friday, August 16, 2019 5:09:15 PM Asia/Calcutta

Yes, your baby might have a risk of developing hearing loss even before birth! While some causes aren’t quite preventable, some others can really be prevented and are completely in your hands. Many a time the cause of hearing loss in the baby in your womb is due to a lack of carefulness and caution. You as a mother must make it a point to take care of your baby in every possible way. Always remember, a healthy you mean a healthy baby!

However, simply talking about the mother’s health would be wrong. The health of the father matters equally and therefore, both the parents must follow healthy habits to avoid any complications of the baby - including hearing. Because leading a healthy lifestyle is key to protect your child’s hearing health, which is much better than hearing loss treatment. Always keep this in mind that if a baby is born with permanent hearing impairment, no treatment of hearing loss can ever replace it with the natural hearing of an individual.

 

Factors Affecting Hearing Health in the Fetus

Certain health conditions of the mother do affect the hearing health of the child during pregnancy. For instance, suppose if a mother has some infections, then certain viruses or infections can get transferred down to the fetus. However, apart from health conditions, there are certain unhealthy habits that might damage the hearing of your baby, such as smoking, alcohol intake, not maintaining a proper and balanced diet, and other such detrimental lifestyle habits. Let’s have a look at how these habits or health conditions hamper the hearing development of the fetus.

 

Unhealthy Habits

  • Smoking and Intake of alcoholic beverages - Toxins from cigarettes and alcoholic drinks are very harmful to hearing as well as the overall health of the child. These substances reduce the cell formation of the fetus which affects the hearing organs, which remain underdeveloped for life. The child in such a case is born with fewer auditory sensory cells than its peers with normal hearing development, thus increasing the risks of hearing loss caused due to noise exposure or aging.

  • Not following a balanced and healthy diet - Malnutrition leads to the underdevelopment of the fetus - including hearing. If a woman doesn’t maintain a good and healthy diet as advised by the doctor, the hearing organs and cells won’t develop properly, thereby increasing the risks of hearing loss both during the fetus stage and after birth.

  • Exposure to loud noises - Even in the mother’s uterus, the baby is highly vulnerable to noise. The hearing mechanism of the fetus is fully developed after 20 weeks of conception and is quite unprotected. If a woman is exposed to high decibels of noise for most of the day or for a significant amount of time, it is highly possible that her baby will be born with noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Studies show that exposure to loud noises during pregnancy can lead to premature delivery.

 

Health Conditions

  • Rubella (German Measles) - It is an infection that affects the skin and lymph nodes and is caused by a virus. If a pregnant woman is affected by the infection, then it can have serious effects on the child, thus affecting the hearing health of the baby.

  • Measles - This can spread easily, causing rash, fever, cough and hearing loss.

  • Herpes - Studies show that four out of five children born of mothers infected with the herpes virus during early pregnancy might develop hearing loss.

  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV) - This is a common virus that can pass over to the fetus from an infected pregnant woman. This is known as congenital CMV which is a leading cause of non-genetic hearing loss, thus affecting speech and language developmental skills.

  • Toxoplasmosis - This infection, often caused by undercooked meat or touching cat poop, causes problems like headaches, body aches, fever, fatigue and hearing loss.

Sadly, some congenital hearing loss (which is present at birth) cannot be prevented. However, following a proper and well-planned hearing loss treatment schedule can help you manage your child’s hearing loss better - especially in the generation of a technological boom. Today’s advanced hearing loss treatment methods like the updated digital hearing aid machine and cochlear implants can help your child develop speech and language skills on time at par with the developmental milestones.

To learn more about factors causing hearing loss during pregnancy, visit this link: https://www.hear-it.org/Protect-your-unborn-baby-against-hearing-loss

 

How to Prevent Your Baby from Developing Hearing Loss?

Now that you are aware of the possible factors affecting the hearing health of your baby in your womb, let’s talk about some preventive measures that can help you protect your child’s hearing health.

  • Quit smoking immediately. Not only you as a pregnant woman should quit smoking (if you have the habit), but you must also ask your family members in your home or other people you are living with to do so - because second-hand smoking is much more dangerous. Motivate them to quit smoking and make them realise that it is harmful to your baby. Every individual must keep this in mind and be responsible.

  • No alcohol intake. Similar is the case with alcoholic drinks. Quit them during pregnancy. It is harmful to both your baby and yourself.

  • Maintain a proper and balanced diet. Talk to your pediatrician or a mother and child healthcare specialist about the good foods and the bad ones. Also discuss your health conditions (if any), so that he or she might set a proper diet chart for you.

  • Avoid being exposed to loud noises. If you have the habit of listening to loud music for hours together, then it’s high time that you must drop it at once! Yes, of course, you will listen to music - it is good for your health as it brings mental peace and calm. But if you do so for hours without a break or without controlling the volume, even that soothing music might turn dangerous for your baby! Make it a habit to reduce the timing and volume of the music.

  • Treat any health condition or infectious diseases at once. Being an expecting mother, never delay or ignore any health issue. Get proper treatment right away. Certain diseases or infections can be carried down to the fetus and might affect its hearing.

  • Avoid taking ototoxic medications.  Certain medications are toxic for the fetus. Consult your doctor and child specialist before taking any medicine.

Prevention is better than any hearing loss treatment. A little care makes a huge difference!

Are you aware of any other causes or preventive measures to protect your baby’s hearing during pregnancy? Tell us in the comment box below.

Also, tell us if you like informative blogs like these. You are also free to recommend if you have a topic in mind and you want us to cover any subject.

Tips for Protecting Your Child's Hearing

Sunday, July 21, 2019 10:53:42 PM Asia/Calcutta

Hearing loss in children can occur in children due to various reasons. About 34 million children are suffering from a disabling hearing loss. 60% of childhood hearing loss is due to causes that can be easily prevented.

 

What Causes Hearing Loss in Children?

While some children are born with a hearing loss - the condition of which is known as Congenital hearing loss - due to reasons like -

  • Infections like Rubella or Herpes simplex

  • Birth defects or injuries

  • Premature birth

  • Genetics

  • Low birth weight

  • Maternal diabetes

  • Drug and alcohol consumption during pregnancy

  • High blood pressure while pregnant

  • Jaundice or Rh factor problems

Others acquire it after birth due to various reasons - the condition known as Acquired hearing loss. Some common factors affecting hearing abilities in children as they grow up include -

  • Exposure to loud noises

  • Ear infections like Otitis media

  • Intake of ototoxic drugs

  • Head or neck injury

  • Chicken pox

  • Mumps

  • Measles

  • Influenza

  • Mumps

  • Meningitis

 

What are the Common Symptoms?

If your child shows these signs, then it’s high time you must consult a professional Audiologist.

  • Distracted behaviour and attention problems

  • Not responding properly in noisy situations

  • Increased fatigue after school or after being in a noisy area

  • Reports of ear pain or other annoyance with the ears or the head

  • Muffled hearing

  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or hearing strange noises in the ears when there are no external sounds present

How to Protect Your Child's Ears from Exposure to Loud Noises?

  • Follow the 60-60 rule. Reduce the time and volume of your child's exposure to loud sounds. The volume exposed to should not exceed 60% and the time of exposure shouldn't be more than 60 minutes at a stretch.
  • Give them ear defenders or ear protectors like earplugs or earmuffs to wear while in abnormally noisy situations.
  • Control and monitor the volume of your TV or radio.
  • Keep your home environment as noise-free as possible. Excessive noises can distract children, thus losing attention to what you are saying. Too much noise would also irritate your child.
  • Of course, test your child's hearing from time to time. Monitor your child's response rates and speech and language development skills. Check whether he or she is developing the communication skills as per the developmental milestones.
  • Consult with a professional Audiologist and a Speech-Language Pathologist to confirm whether your child is having proper access to the hearing world and that he or she is learning speech and language correctly at par with his or her peers.

Nowadays, most hospitals do offer hearing test after delivery. Make it a point to go through a newborn hearing screening before you take your child home. Early intervention is necessary so that you can start a proper hearing loss treatment procedure on time - be it hearing aids or cochlear implants. A child must need to have proper access to the hearing world so as to develop good speech and language skills.

6 Home Remedies to Remove Earwax Naturally

Wednesday, June 12, 2019 3:29:25 PM Asia/Calcutta

Feeling irritation or a sensation of discomfort in your ears? Do you notice changes in your hearing such as a diminished hearing ability or feel that your ears are blocked. Continuous accumulation of earwax might harden it, which later might cause serious problems like itching, pain and other complications, including hearing loss in which case you will have to go for a hearing loss treatment. So why wait until situations turn worse? Hardened earwax is a common problem, but you need to treat it at the right time to avoid further botherations.


What is Earwax Build-up?

Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a grey, orangish or yellowish waxy substance which is produced by the ear canal as a part of the body’s defence mechanism against bacteria and other harmful foreign particles. Earwax also acts as a natural lubricant to trap dirt, thus reducing the growth of bacteria, hence protecting the skin from water and infection.

Earwax removal should not be done on a regular basis as it is essential for keeping away the harmful particles from entering into our ears. It must be done only when required. Earwax is a natural protection for the inner ear and the eardrum.

 

How to Get Rid of Earwax?

Often there are times in which the earwax hardens so much that it becomes difficult for it to fall off naturally. In such a case it is required to remove it manually. A hardened earwax can cause many hearing problems and if you show reluctance in removing it, you will have no other choice left but to go for a hearing loss treatment.

Yes, it is true that there are experts and professionals, mostly Audiologists who can help you get rid of earwax, but you can try a few easy methods to do it yourself at home. And the best part is that all of these earwax removal ways are quite natural with absolutely no risks of any side-effects.

  1. Hydrogen Peroxide - Take 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, water and cotton balls. Mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and water to make a solution. Tilt your head sideways with your affected ear facing the ceiling and squeeze some of the solution using a cotton ball in your blocked ear. Let the solution settle for some time and then tilt the head towards the floor to let the extra solution drip off. A single use of this remedy should help remove your earwax and relief you from a blocked ear. Apart from removing earwax, hydrogen peroxide also acts as a disinfectant that will keep away ear infections.

  1. Coconut Oil - Take 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and lightly warm it using a dropper. Pour a few drops slowly in the affected ear and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Now tilt your head to remove the melted earwax. Apply this home remedy as and when required. Coconut oil has the capability to kill a wide range of harmful bacteria that may have accumulated due to the earwax build-up.

  1. Almond Oil - Just like coconut oil, almond oil works as well. Fill a dropper with almond oil at room temperature and use it in the same way as coconut oil. Repeat this method as and when required. Almond oil too acts as a lubricate that helps in the elimination of earwax.

  1. Baby Oil - Yes, that Johnson and Johnson baby oil of your childhood will be very effective in earwax removal. Apply the same method as above. Put a few drops of baby oil in your blocked ear with a dropper or a cotton ball. Also, block the opening of the ear with a dry cotton ball to avoid oil from oozing out of the ear for some time and then remove it afterward. Baby oil contains mineral oil which acts as an effective moisturizer and lubricant and helps to soften the earwax.

  1. Alcohol - Mix 1 part rubbing alcohol and 1 part white vinegar to make a solution. Flush your ear with this mixture to get rid of hardened earwax. Repeat this procedure every few weeks to keep your ears clean free of infections. A mixture of alcohol and vinegar helps dissolve the earwax. While alcohol serves as a drying agent that evaporates when the temperatures are low, white vinegar, on the other hand, has astringent properties for which it fights against microbial infections.

  1. Baking Soda - Mix a quarter teaspoon of baking soda properly with 2 teaspoons of water. Pour a few drops of the solution into the affected ear with a dropper and let it stay for a few minutes. Then tilt your head to remove the melted earwax and clean it with a soft dry cloth. If required, you can repeat using this remedy after a day or two.

With a hardened earwax, one can even face difficulties with hearing aids. If your earwax keeps on accumulating for days, the risks of ear infections and hearing loss increase. So it would be a safe option to remove hardened earwax than to go for hearing loss treatment.

Newborn Hearing Screening

Saturday, June 1, 2019 5:23:18 PM Asia/Calcutta

Watching your sweet little baby for the first time - moving his/her tiny little hands and smiling at you is such a beautiful moment of happiness and pride. We know that you want the best for your child in every possible way. But do you know that a good life starts with good hearing? So before you come home with your newborn baby, there is one very important test to do (along with many others) - which is a hearing test, or newborn hearing screening.

Yes, there are good chances that your newborn can hear. But according to studies, out of 97% of newborns screened, fewer than 1% are diagnosed with permanent hearing loss. So there still might be a chance of your child born with some hearing problems - no matter how small the chance might be.

Newborn Hearing Screening

Why is Early Intervention Necessary?

From birth, one very important way by which a child learns is by listening and hearing. If a child is not given proper access to the hearing world, he or she won’t develop the speech, language and other communication skills. Although most infants are born without any hearing problems, yet 1 to 3 in every 1000 babies born in the United States is born with some kind of hearing problems.

The first 1-2 years of age is the most crucial period in a child’s life to learn and develop all the developmental skills - primarily with the help of hearing. In this period, the child’s learning capability attains its highest position, due to the presence of the maximum synaptic density or neural interconnections in the brain. The more these neural interconnections, the greater will be the child’s ability to learn new things.

Since synaptic density gradually starts reducing after 2-3 years of age and as he or she gets older, it’s extremely necessary that he or she must be given the opportunity to learn quite well in the first 2 years - and one very important way of doing so is to ensure that your child is having proper access to the hearing world. Early intervention and an early hearing loss treatment will bring a huge difference to the development of communication skills - especially speech and language.

According to professional Audiologists, the intervention should begin before your baby turns 6 months old. If your child receives well and proper access to the hearing world during this time, his or her spoken language development would be better.

 

Why do Newborns Need Hearing Screening?

The goal of newborn hearing screening is to ensure that all the babies who are born with hearing loss are identified as soon as possible so that their hearing loss treatment can be started immediately after. It is only through newborn hearing screening that you would get to know whether your child is suffering from any hearing problems. Sometimes you may think that your child has a normal hearing as he or she is responding to your calls or some sound-producing toys. But this doesn’t prove that your child is not suffering from any hearing problems - chances of a mild or moderate degree of hearing loss can still be there.

Therefore, without a newborn hearing screening, it is difficult to know the minor hearing changes in the child. Don’t ignore even if your child has mild hearing loss or if he or she misses out the less important sounds. Each and every hearing issue is important because every sound is food to the brain!

 

When Should I Go for Hearing Screening for My Newborn Child?

As early as right after your child’s birth. The best decision is to do your child’s hearing screening before taking him or her to home from the hospital where he or she was born. Your goal should be to get your child’s hearing screening done within 1 month of age, get your child’s hearing problems identified within 3 months of age, and if your child is diagnosed with a hearing loss, then start an intervention or hearing loss treatment programme within the first six months.

Nowadays, most well-known hospitals perform routine newborn hearing screenings before you leave the hospital and take your child to your home.

 

How is it Done?

There are a few tests performed in any newborn hearing screening programme that determine whether your child is able to hear well. A good hearing loss treatment programme starts only after identifying whether the individual is really having hearing loss, and if found with one, then what is its severity. And this should be done right after birth.

  • Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) - This test measures how sound waves are produced in your baby’s inner ears. In this test, a miniature microphone and earphone are placed inside your baby’s ears to measure his or her response to sounds played into the ear such as clicks or tones. If your baby has normal hearing, then the sounds would trigger an echo in the ear canal, which is then measured by the microphone placed inside it. If your child is born with any hearing problems, then this echo won’t be produced and hence the microphone wouldn’t record any.

  • Auditory brainstem response (ABR) - This test measures how the auditory nerve and the brain of your child respond to sound. Soft earphones are placed inside your baby’s ears and clicks or tones are played. Three small electrodes are placed on the baby’s head which test the response of the auditory nerve and the brain.

Both of the above screens are quick and takes about 5-10 minutes. Both of them are absolutely painless and can be done when your child is sleeping or laying down still. One or both the screening tests can be used to determine your child’s hearing abilities.

 

What if My Baby Doesn’t Pass the Screening Tests?

Even if your baby doesn’t pass the hearing screening test, then that doesn't necessarily mean that your child is deaf or hard of hearing. The results might be affected by excessive fluid buildup in the child’s ears, or due to excessive noise in the room where the test was performed. There are many cases in which the babies who don’t pass the hearing screening tests have quite normal hearing. But you need to be sure right? So for that you really need to go for further tests, so that you can start your child’s hearing loss treatment in case he or she is identified with a loss.

About 1 or 2 in every 100 babies born don’t pass hearing screening tests. So if your baby is one of them, then you need to consult a professional Audiologist who have good experience working with babies. This test should include a thorough hearing evaluation programme as well as medical evaluation. Make sure that you perform these additional tests as soon as possible and definitely before your baby turns 3 months old. However, it is not a good idea to wait that long.

 

If My Baby is Identified With Hearing Loss, What are the Treatment Options?

Today there are a host of advanced hearing loss treatment options which would provide a wonderful listening experience. However, which option to go for would depend on the type and degree of hearing loss of your baby. It would also depend on your preferences and choices that you think would be good for your baby. This would include lifestyle choices as well as the environment your baby is growing up in.

The various hearing loss treatment options and intervention services include the following -

  • Hearing aids - These are electronic devices which are worn in the ear. These devices, which come in a bundle of advanced features today and a number of shapes and sizes, amplify the sounds for you to help you hear better.

  • Cochlear implant - These are electronic devices which are surgically implanted to replace the damaged cochlea of the inner ear.

  • Language and communication - Speech and language therapy is very important to help a child learn and develop communication skills while using hearing devices.

  • Assistive listening devices - These are devices which enhance the child’s listening experience, like the microphone or telecoil.

There’s nothing to worry about if your kid is diagnosed with hearing loss. Your child is in the 21st century, which is radically changing in terms of a technological boom. With so many hearing loss treatment options available today, hearing loss will no more be a barrier in your child’s journey towards success.

Are you aware of any latest hearing loss treatment technology specially designed to enhance the hearing ability of children?

Do tell us in the comments if we missed out on any fact.

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