Going back to school is a time for new beginnings, reconnecting with old friends, and…ear care? While many children and their parents are focused on packing lunches and color coordinating notebooks, prioritizing a child’s ability to hear in the classroom is pivotal to success. Without this, a child can fall behind in class, struggle to make friends, and even develop self-esteem issues.
When it comes to your family’s hearing health, don’t play it by ear. Providing your child with proper ear care is necessary to prevent hearing loss and set them up for classroom success. With that in mind, here are 6 simple pieces of ear advice that will help you start the academic year on the right foot:
1. Have a Hearing Health Plan
Not surprisingly, hearing plays a key role in classroom learning, child development, and overall communication. Unfortunately, the Center for Disease Control reports that 12% of children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 years have been exposed to excessive noise and experienced hearing loss as a result. Even minor hearing loss can have a significant impact on children’s learning abilities. When students have trouble hearing their teachers, they tend to miss information, misinterpret instructions, and display inattentiveness that can mimic ADD/ADHD. The American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) suggests that without intervention, kids with even moderate hearing loss may learn one to four grade levels behind their peers.
Fortunately, noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is preventable - and even if your child has experienced hearing loss, early detection goes a long way in overcoming it. An audiologist can help you come up with a health plan to care for your child’s ears and help to promote long-term healthy hearing behaviors that will reverberate for years to come.
2. Schedule a Checkup
Like any other health matter, it’s important to have your hearing periodically checked. Children should have their hearing tested before they begin school or any other time you’re concerned about their ear health. Remember: although pediatricians typically check your child’s ears during an annual physical examination, only an audiologist can conduct a full diagnostic hearing test. During this evaluation, the doctor will determine if your child’s hearing falls within a normal range, diagnose different ear conditions, and choose a course of treatment.
3. Treat Ear Infections
Ear infections are common in children and are often caused by flu season, ear injury, exposure to cigarette smoke, or even family history. An audiologist can advise you on how to treat an ear infection and whether your child needs antibiotics to heal. If your child has chronic or recurring ear infections, your audiologist can also evaluate their ear health and determine the most effective course of treatment.
4. Come in for a Cleaning
Earwax is one of the body’s natural defense mechanisms against bacteria, debris, and water. But using a cotton swab to remove the wax can actually push it deeper into the canal, where wax can compact and harden. When children decide to take ear wax removal into their own hands, they can end up with painful injuries or even leave lasting damage. To prevent earwax buildup, ditch the Q-tips and read an audiologists’ tips instead. And if your child has accumulated excess earwax, an audiologist can safely remove it.
5. Consider Custom Ear Plugs
If you have a swimmer in the house, you know that this extracurricular activity can lead to Outer Ear Canal Infection, or Swimmer’s Ear. The condition occurs when water gets trapped in the ear canal, causing bacteria to grow and leaving the ear itchy, painful, or even temporarily hard of hearing. Earplugs can protect your swimmer’s ears from water. Because no two ear canals are exactly alike (ears are as distinct as fingerprints!) consider custom-molded earplugs to prevent infection.
6. Look out for Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can happen any time, from before birth to middle or old age. If any member of the family is having trouble hearing conversations, spends a lot of time around loud noises, or hears ringing in the ears, it’s time to schedule an appointment with an ear doctor.
Let Us Help
Francis Audiology Associates is a Wexford-based, independent, community-oriented practice that offers a number of hearing care services, including diagnostic evaluations, hearing aid repair, and ear cleaning. Our specialists promise to provide you with the support and solutions you need this back to school season.
Have a question? Need help from an audiologist? We’re all ears. Call us at (724) 441-8695 or request an appointment online. Our hearing care specialists promise to provide your family with the support and solutions you need for a great school year.