Spotting Hearing Loss in Your Loved Ones

Hearing loss is one of most common disabilities in the UK today. In fact it is estimated that more than 10 million people living in the UK today are dealing with some kind of hearing ailment. A massive number, yet hearing loss is rarely mentioned in the mainstream media.

When it comes to your children, there are several signs to look out for when testing their hearing. Around 840 children are born with permanent hearing loss each year. Babies are routinely screened within the first few weeks of their birth as part of the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme (NHSP), but difficulties can develop later.

The NHS has provided a guide on what your baby should be able to hear over the first year of their life.

From birth - jumps at loud noises
1 month - starts to notice sudden and prolonged sounds
4 months - shows excitement at sounds and smiles in response to the sound of a familiar voice
7-9 months - babbles, gurgles and coos and turns to a familiar voice across a room or to very quiet noises made on each side
12 months - responds to certain words, such as their name

You should consider seeing your GP if you notice your child is slow to learn to talk, or they are not clear when they speak. It can also be a sign of hearing impairment if they often ask you to repeat yourself and talk very loudly. Turning up the television volume is also a telltale sign.

The good news is the tests that your GP will carry out are very effective and can, in most cases, spot any hearing problems that may be prominent. The other side of looking after your child's heading is the prevention of loud, harmful noises around your child.

According to the World Health Organisation, noise-induced hearing loss is the main cause of permanent hearing loss worldwide. So how loud is too loud? A good rule to follow for infants is if the noise in question is loud enough to disrupt a normal conversation it could be harmful. The average volume of a conversation between two adults is estimated to be around 60 decibels, therefore be wary of anything that exceeds this for an extended period of time.

Children's toys are actually a common cause for hearing problems in infants. As part of the learning process, children often grab and hold their favourites toys close to their heads, and when these toys have beeps and buzzes coming from them it can lead to issues. A keen eye however is all that's needed to stop this from developing into a long term problem.

There are several forms of protection available for your child's ears. Earplugs or noise cancelling headphones are the most effective and should be worn whenever your child is in an environment with excessive loud noises, such as a festival or a fireworks display.

One of the most prominent places to experience excessive noise is at a formula 1 race event. An article in the Telegraph revealed that Craig Dolder from the University of Texas calculated without hearing protection race-goers would get 234 percent of the daily-allowed noise dosage going by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.

Of course these are exceptional circumstances, but if you have attended an event such as the one above it is worth considering whether or not your hearing has been affected or not. Spotting hearing loss is essential and catching it early can provide your loved one with a more fulfilled life for longer.

Hearing aids nowadays have completely transformed from the form they took a decade ago. New technology has meant that they are subtler, more comfortable and more advanced than ever before. Analogue, Digital and the new "hidden" hearing aids have revolutionised the way the hearing impaired deal with their disability.

Dr Hilary Jones, a regular contributor to ITV's "This Morning" and ambassador for Hidden Hearing has made is views clear on the topic of the hearing impaired who are undiagnosed.

"With 10 million people in the UK currently experiencing hearing loss and as many as 4 million of them still undiagnosed and reluctant to seek help, it is a hugely neglected condition crying out for attention. Yet they are suffering not so much in silence as in muffled confusion. It no longer needs to be like that."

"New almost invisible modern hearing aid technology means that remedies for all severities of hearing loss are readily available, cosmetically acceptable and perhaps most importantly of all, dramatically effective."

The graphic below explains the warning signs, and the process of what to do next when a problem is suspected.

Hearing Loss - Guidance for Family and Friends
Hearing Loss Guidance Provided by Hidden Hearing

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