Uncategorized

audiologist in sydney for children

Children’s Hearing Tests in Sydney

Speech and language development is eminently dependent on a child’s auditory sense, with mental, personal, and behavioral development being closely linked as well.

Hearing loss in children isn’t limited to a certain age group. It affects both younger and older children. Further, it could develop before, after, or during birth.

If you suspect that your child’s hearing is impaired, or if you’ve never had it tested before, it’s highly recommended that you get it tested as soon as possible.

In this article, we cover the different types of hearing tests in Sydney, Australia as well as the basis on which they’re carried out, so stick around.

Why Do Children Need Hearing Tests?

Babies born in Australia get their hearing screened at birth via special non-invasive equipment. Thereafter, the results are recorded in the baby’s discharge book (the blue one).

Even though all babies are screened at birth to eliminate the risk of impaired speech and language development, it’s still possible for them to develop hearing loss later on in their lives.

baby hearing test
baby hearing test

If your baby wasn’t screened at birth or has failed the screening test, it’s imperative that you get your baby’s hearing tested or retested as soon as you can.

The most common cause of hearing loss in young children is ear infection. Luckily, it’s just a temporary condition. However, this doesn’t take anything away from the fact that it can result in impaired speech and language development.

This brings us to the importance of having your child’s hearing tested throughout the different stages of their life. Each age group is assessed via different tests and equipment which we’re going to shed light on shortly.

How Much Do Hearing Tests Cost?

We’re going to cover the different places at which you can have your hearing checked, but we’re going to use local Spacesavers stores for reference in this section of the article.

At a Spacesavers store, you can have your hearing checked by an audiology professional for free. The entire test takes around 15 minutes. Based on the result of this test, the need for a full diagnostic assessment is determined.

Note that there are many other hearing clinics that offer free 15-minute checks. We’re just using Spacesavers Audiology as an example.

In the event of needing further diagnostic assessment, Spacesavers’ comprehensive test will set you back $49. The test takes an average of 60 minutes.

Keep in mind that the Australian Government Hearing Services Program offers free access to a host of high-quality hearing services and devices for those who are eligible. Head to the website to check eligibility.

What Are the Different Types of Hearing Tests?

Different testing techniques are utilized based on the child’s developmental age. The end goal of any hearing test is to deliver a plot between the softest levels (decibels) and various pitches (frequencies), also known as an audiogram.

The following paragraphs shed light on the most common hearing tests carried out in Sydney per age group.

Under 6 Months

Babies under 6 months are assessed via objective techniques that don’t necessarily require them to respond to the sounds they hear.

These techniques are best carried out when babies are asleep or settled. Special equipment such as chimes and bells may be used by pediatric audiologists in certain cases to assess the baby’s response to different frequencies.

The responses that audiologists look for don’t have to be head turns. They could be anything from frowning or raising an eyelid to awakening or startling.

As mentioned previously, babies born in Australia get their hearing tested upon birth, but a lot can happen in 6 months. So, if you have any doubts about your baby’s hearing capabilities, get in touch with a pediatric audiologist right away.

6 Months to 3 Years

Babies between 6 months and 3 years of age are assessed by a wide variety of tests depending on their development. If the baby has established the ability to turn its head, the specialist may use a puppet show to assess its hearing capabilities. This is referred to as Visual Reinforcement Orientation Audiometry (VROA).

VROA is the most commonly used technique for this specific age group because of its proven success rate. Using this technique, the audiologist will be able to determine whether or not the child has ample hearing for normal speech and language development.

VROA can be used in conjunction with headphones to help assess the child’s ability to receive separate ear information. It all boils down to development and cooperativeness.

2.5 to 4 Years

For this specific age group, play audiometry is the most favorable testing technique because it’s basically a game. It could be anything from building a block, completing a puzzle, or other. Each time the child participates in the game in any way, a different sound chimes.

The frequency of the sounds chimed range from 250Hz- 8KHz, which are very soft sounds. As mentioned earlier, the aim of these tests is to produce an audiogram that analyzes the child’s ability to perceive softer sounds.

Note that the test sounds in the play audiometry technique are uttered via loudspeakers or headphones. If the former is utilized, the test will require less time than if the latter is utilized since both ears will be tested at the same time rather than individually.

5 Years and Over

Children over the age of 5 will be tested via play audiometry or pure tone audiometry, depending on their maturity and development. Pure tone audiometry is basically a test of how loud sounds need to be in order for a child to hear them. In this test, a child will usually be required to push a button every time they hear a sound.

Other Tests

The above-mentioned tests are the most commonly used for each respective age group, but they’re not the only tests that specialists utilize. Below is a list of some of the other hearing tests that your child can undergo.

  • Air Conduction: This is a test that assesses a child’s ability to hear different tones via headphones.
  • Tympanometry: This isn’t a hearing test. It’s basically an eardrum checkup. It’s known as a middle ear test.
  • Bone Conduction: This is a test that assesses your child’s cochlea and its ability to pick up vibrations.

Get Your Child Tested

Hearing is essential to proper speech and language development in a child, and so we urge you to have your child tested regularly to eliminate the risk of temporary or permanent hearing loss.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) – What You Need to Know

Hazardous noise (85 decibels or higher) is one of the most common causes of hearing loss in adults. It’s present in a range of industries and workplaces, including the building industry and manufacturing facilities.

Constant exposure to hazardous noise has the potential to damage the structure of an adult’s inner ear, resulting in sensorineural hearing loss, also known as noise-induced hearing loss.

construction, worker, laborer

Adults aren’t the only ones at risk here, as the utilization of earbuds and headphones is putting adolescents at risk as well.

In this article, we cover everything you need to know about noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), from what it is and its symptoms to means of prevention and treatment, so stick around.

What Is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?

Noise-induced hearing loss is damage done to the tiny hair cells (stereocilia) within the inner ear. Basically, when the ear is exposed to hazardous noise, powerful vibrations occur in the hair cells, damaging them in the long run. In most cases, the damage is permanent (irreversible).

When hair cells are damaged, they become incapable of sending electrical signals to the brain, which basically impairs the person’s sense of hearing. Unfortunately, hair cells cannot regrow or be replaced, which is why noise-induced hearing loss is irreversible.

Noise-induced hearing loss isn’t only associated with continuous exposure to loud noises; it’s also associated with exposure to short yet very loud noises like explosions and gunshots.

The condition tends to occur over extended periods of time that could span years. So, even though you may not feel affected by hazardous work-related noise at the moment, you’re bound to notice its effect on your sense of hearing after a few years of exposure.

How to Identify Hazardous Noise?

As mentioned in the introduction, hazardous noise is identified as sounds that exceed the 85 decibels threshold. One must keep in mind, however, that noise-induced hearing loss is influenced by factors such as how often and how long a person is exposed to hazardous noise. One must also factor in the distance between the noise source and the person hearing it.

That said, you can still develop noise-induced hearing loss from sounds that are below the 85 decibels mark, simply because of how long and how often you’re exposed to these sounds, in addition to how close you are from the source.

Okay, so how can you identify hazardous noise? Well, all you have to do is download a decibel meter app on your smartphone, such as “Decibel X” or “Too Noisy.”

A clear indicator that you’re in an overly loud environment is when you have to lean too close to a person or shout in order for your speech to be heard.

Please note that close-range exposure to extremely loud noises like a gunshot from a 12-gauge shotgun (160 decibels), for example, can result in immediate and permanent damage.

What Are the Symptoms of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?

There are a few telltale signs of potential noise-induced hearing loss. If you experience any of these signs, it’s highly recommended that you seek help from a hearing care professional. The signs include:

  • The inability to comprehend what others are saying as if they’re mumbling
  • Mild pain in your ears after getting exposed to hazardous noise levels
  • Receiving constant comments about how loud or shouty your speech is
  • Experiencing tinnitus (ringing or buzzing sounds) after noise exposure
  • Although it’s pretty rare, you may experience diplacusis (double hearing)

It’s also worth mentioning that there are other side-effects to long-term exposure to hazardous noise apart from hearing loss, including stress, insomnia, anxiety, increased heart rate, and high blood pressure. If you suffer from any of these side-effects, seek hearing care right away.

How to Prevent Noise-induced Hearing Loss?

As mentioned earlier, noise-induced hearing loss is an irreversible condition, and so it’s pretty important to take precautionary measures if you’re going to put yourself in a loud environment.

Earmuffs are an excellent way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. We recommend opting for earmuffs that cover the entire ear, as they’re able to lower noise levels by up to 30 decibels.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss - Construction Worker

For optimal results, we recommend pairing earmuffs with disposable foam earplugs, which you can get from a drug store or hardware store. Disposable foam earplugs are also able to reduce noise by up to 30 decibels, so combining them with earmuffs will significantly help with keeping hazardous noise levels at bay.

If you’re into louder music such as hard rock and heavy metal, try reducing the volume to a moderate level, especially if you use in-ear earbuds. If you’re using loud music to block out hazardous noise in a workplace, you’re not really doing your ears any favors.

If you use loud machinery, we highly recommend lubricating the machinery on a regular basis to reduce friction. It’s also worth pointing out that there are various machines that can be equipped with mufflers or bearings that help reduce their noise levels.

What Compensation Can Hearing Loss Claims Provide?

Workers with an accepted hearing loss claim may be eligible for reduced costs with hearing care services and devices. They may also be eligible for an impairment benefit.

Furthermore, workers with accepted hearing loss claims may receive payments on a weekly basis if their work capacity is affected by their impairment.

Hearing loss claims are assessed carefully based on guidelines provided by national research divisions and organizations such as the National Acoustic Laboratory (NAL), utilizing methods to calculate and subtract hearing loss associated with the aging process as well as other factors.

Final Thoughts

We don’t need to tell you how vital it is to avoid hazardous noise. It’s not always a privilege, but you can still take precautionary measures to reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss.

You need to be mindful of your surroundings so that you can detect hazardous noise and take action right away. For instance, if you’re going to use noisy machinery, wear some earplugs. If you’re stuck in traffic and it’s noisy, roll up your windows. Just find a way to reduce the noise.

How do your ears help you balance?

“Balance is the key to a healthy life” – How many times have we heard this quote? But did you know that our inner ear is responsible for our sense of balance?

The concept might seem arbitrary to some people. How could the ear possibly help us maintain balance? It certainly doesn’t make sense that such a small organ of our bodies can help us with something so significant.

beach, sunset, yoga

Well, the truth lies even deeper – deep inside the inner ear. Every individual has a balance system known as the vestibular system. It works in cohesion with several other systems, such as our sensory system, ears and our eyes. In this short guide, you will find out more about this system and how your ears keep you from toppling over.

So, without further ado, let’s talk about balance!

How Do Your Ears Help You Balance?

To understand how ears help you balance, you need first to understand their anatomy.

Anatomy Of The Ear

Our ears are made of three parts – the external, middle and inner portion. In this guide, we will be concerned mainly with the inner ear and the vestibular system.

The vestibular system of your ear is made up of three, semicircular canals and two pockets. Each semicircular canal works in its own way to detect specific movements you make – nodding, rotating your head, walking, and running.

Every head movement causes the fluid inside the ears to move. This, in turn, stimulates the tiny hairs in the inner ear, which send messages to a part of the brain known as the cerebellum. This process is conducted by the vestibular system, which we now know as the balance system.

The Semicircular Canals

Each of the three semicircular canals is located at different angles. This enables the brain to make a better judgement of where the head is moving.

Certain fast or prolonged movements such as spinning on the spot or running fast back and forth can cause the liquid in your ears to continue ‘swishing’ even after you have stopped moving. This is why it often seems like the ‘world is spinning’ after doing such movements.

The vestibular system is sensitive to small movements of our head, but these kinds of prolonged movements can cause some disorientation.

The Otolith Organs

The two pockets located in the inner ear are called the otolith organs. These seemingly small and inconsequential pockets in your ear play a huge role in maintaining your balance as you stand, walk, talk, lie down or laugh.

The otolith organs are called the saccule and utricle, respectively. They are responsible for sending messages to the brain (via the vestibular system) about your body’s movement in a straight line.

Think of it like this – when you walk forward or backward, go up or down, or even lean on one side or lie down, these tiny pockets in your ear send messages to the brain, telling it about this movement.

The utricle judges any horizontal movement or change of position of your head or body. Movements such as tilting, leaning or lying down trigger the tiny crystals, which then stimulate the hair in this pocket.

Conversely, the saccule is triggered by vertical movements, such as jumping, climbing, going up an escalator, etc. When the tiny hairs are triggered in the inner ear, they send messages to your brain, alerting it about this movement.

Is Balance Linked To Hearing?

A part of the inner ear called the cochlea enables our ears to receive the sound waves coming from outside. These sound waves cause movement of the liquid of the inner ear, which in turn, trigger the tiny hairs.

It can often be seen that hearing loss causes balance issues – since hearing loss is mostly concerned with problems with the inner ear. Let us elucidate this with an example.

We have all heard of the term “vertigo.” This is a sensation of feeling ‘off-balance’ or dizzy. This condition is often related to Meniere’s, which is a fluid balance disorder of the inner ear. It can thus be understood that issues related to the inner ear or hearing loss may often cause vertigo or dizzy spells.

Final Words

If you experience feelings of dizziness or vertigo, it is imperative to visit your doctor and let them know of this immediately.

Not many people are aware of how acutely their ears are associated with their sense of balance. An easy tip to take care of your ears and maintain your steady sense of balance is to avoid using Q-tips. Although it seems like they do an effective job of cleaning your ears, you run the risk of damaging the eardrums and disrupting the fluid.

Over time, this can cause hearing loss and vertigo. Of course, we don’t recommend that you stop cleaning your ears!

We hope you enjoyed finding out about the fascinating relation between ears and balance.

Until next time!

Top 3 Hearing Aid Mistakes and How To Avoid Them!

Congratulations on your new hearing aid! It’s a great way to improve the quality of your life.

However, merely getting the best one on the market is a job half-done. There are many aspects that need to be taken care of, and that includes knowing what not to do with it. Otherwise, even the most expensive model will fail to yield satisfactory results.

13256

It is for this reason that we take it upon ourselves to make you aware of the top 3 hearing aid mistakes that you should avoid. Now, let’s get started, shall we?

Top 3 Hearing Aid Mistakes

1. Wearing Mistakes

A. Wearing Your Hearing Aid In The Shower

One of the most common wearing mistakes that many hearing-aid owners make is to leave it on in the shower. We understand that it may be tempting to wear it everywhere, especially if the fitting is perfect. But like all electronic devices, water is its nemesis.

Moisture can cause irreparable damage to these complex electronic devices. Water can corrode the circuits, thereby hampering their functionality, more so when you don’t dry them properly afterwards. Therefore, it’s advisable to remove the hearing aid when showering, swimming, or even if you’re out in heavy rains. Likewise, water seepage during scuba diving can destroy the parts.

B. Improper Fitting

There’s no dearth of hearing aids on the market. Moreover, you can avail custom fitting services at almost any clinic. So, there’s no reason why you should wear one that doesn’t have the perfect fitting. While it may feel snug initially, stop wearing them if you experience any pain or discomfort and consult your clinician for proper adjustment.

As such, it mostly requires multiple fitting sessions to get the right adjustment. For example, the first sitting may involve taking your earmold impressions. Similarly, the rest of the sittings may be dedicated to calibrating the settings. 

Besides, your level and type of hearing loss will determine the hearing aid style that’s best suited for you. Hence, be honest about every problem during the analysis. And make sure you’re absolutely at ease with the device by the time the sessions conclude.

2. Maintenance Mistakes

A. Not Cleaning It Regularly

Regularly cleaning your hearing aid will help in prolonging its service life. The thumb rule is to gently wipe it over with a clean and soft cloth. This is an effective way to get rid of the earwax and skin cell build-up inside. Plus, the natural oils secreted by the ears can affect the battery life.

Don’t use any solvents or cleaning fluid as these may damage the device. And always wash your hands before handling the hearing aid. Furthermore, the basic cleaning procedure may vary from one model to another. So, talk to your clinician and follow the manufacturer’s instructions minutely.

hearing aid products

If you feel that cleaning it on your own isn’t sufficient, consult a professional or get in touch with the manufacturer. Avoid unnecessary probing and prodding at any cost.

B. Keep It Away From Extreme Temperatures

Like moisture, extreme temperatures are also detrimental to your hearing aid. So, try not to expose it to very cold or hot temperatures. For instance, if you plan to shovel the driveway on a snowy day, which doesn’t usually require hearing, keep it inside the house instead of stashing it in the coat pocket.

3. Not Working With Your Hearing Aid

First-time users tend to think that it’s the hearing aid that will do all the work. But that isn’t the case. Wearing a hearing aid doesn’t only impact the ears, but it’s also the brain that needs to interpret the sounds. Thus, it’s important to work on ear-to-brain connections. And that may employ certain strategies, the most common of which is reading out loud.

This activity plays a crucial role in connecting the word (which you read) to the sound (which you hear). It may feel silly at first, but the more you create the connection, the better will be your hearing.

Alternatively, you can opt for audiobooks and write down whatever you hear. Later, ask a friend or family to match your notes with the audio. Or, purchase a physical copy of the same audiobook and read it along with the playback. It will work in the same way as reading out loud.

Final Words

Sure, hearing aids make life easier, but they demand some attention too.

It’s a mix of maintenance and practice that’ll help them serve better. So, don’t make cleaning and practice a one-time affair. Aside from that, ensure that the device is actually beneficial for you. Many clinics offer a trial period so that you get used to the device operation, so ask for that. Then go for it only if you’re fully satisfied.

And on that note, it’s time for us to take your leave. Hopefully, we’ve helped you avoid the basic mistakes that can be a roadblock for your hearing.

Till the next time, goodbye!

music with hearing impairment

Does hearing loss prevent you from being able to play music?

We’re told that we need all five senses to enjoy the world – but what happens when you have a hearing impairment?

It isn’t surprising to figure that most people associate music with auditory senses. In simple words – you need to have good hearing to enjoy music. But is that really the case?

Suffering from a hearing impairment can feel like a blow to your senses – especially if you enjoy playing music. To ease your mind, we have some excellent news. No! Hearing loss will not prevent you from playing music.

In reality, musicians are often at risk of noise-induced hearing loss due to their constant exposure to loud decibels. However, this shouldn’t prevent you from continuing the journey to discover music.

Here’s all you need to know about hearing loss and the ability to continue playing music.

Does Hearing Loss Prevent You From Playing Music?

People suffering from hearing loss often imagine not being able to play or listen to music again. They tend to shy away from music, thinking that it won’t sound the way they remember it.

Before you put your favourite musical instrument in stow, let us tell you how this is nothing more than an old-time myth.

Signs You May Be Suffering A Hearing Impairment

Do you suspect your hearing is beginning to suffer? Well, you’re not alone. Lots of people, especially musicians, report hearing losses of varying degrees. Here are a few symptoms you should look out for.

  1. Speech & Sound Seem Muffled

The first signs of hearing loss show up in everyday life, rather than when you’re trying to enjoy music. You might observe everyday sounds such as speech or sounds from your surrounding seeming muffled.

  1. Difficulty Understanding Speech Over The Phone

When having conversations over the phone in public or a noisy setting, it can seem natural to hear muffled voices rather than clear ones. However, if you suddenly find it difficult to follow conversations over the phone (even in quiet settings), you may be having issues with your hearing.

  1. Turning Up The Volume

Do you find yourself turning up the volume on your headphones, the television or the radio more often than usual? Or maybe people around you have observed that you’re turning the volume up higher than usual. It may be a sign of sudden hearing loss.

How Does Hearing Loss Occur?

Like many medical conditions, hearing loss can occur due to a variety of reasons. For musicians, however, this condition occurs more commonly due to prolonged exposure to high volumes. That being said, there are a few other factors that may contribute to hearing loss.

  • Injuries to the ear
  • Genetics
  • An individual’s susceptibility to noise
  • Toluene and other organic liquid chemicals
  • Medication
  • Chronic conditions (like diabetes and high blood pressure)

Can You Play Music After Suffering From Hearing Loss?

Yes! You can continue to play and enjoy music, even after suffering from hearing loss. Musician Stu Nunnery suffered the same fate in 1978 when he suddenly discovered that he had severe hearing loss in one ear.

Initially, he felt desolate about the situation and spent about 30 years of his life without music. However, he found his way back to his piano and singing when he discovered hearing aids.

Man standing by train tracks with foot on guitar

A similar story is that of Rick Ledbetter, a professional bass player. In 1989, during a recording session, an engineer observed that Rick had the volume of his headphones very high. He suggested that Rick get his hearing tested, which he did.

Rick described grimly how his worst nightmare came true – he was increasingly losing his ability to hear. Following everyday conversations became a chore, and he was losing hope ever to be able to play the bass again.

Thanks to modern technology and advancements in hearing aid technology, Rick was able to programme his own hearing aids. These were designed to help him hear better, and the increased ability to hear also brought back his confidence – and he was soon back on stage.

What Do You Do If You Are Suffering From Hearing Loss?

It is imperative to visit an audiologist at the earliest. Communication is key, and you must describe your condition in detail to your doctor. The modern marvels of medicine and technology have made it possible to wear discreet hearing aids that are guaranteed to improve your quality of life.

Leading A Normal Life With Hearing Loss

Dealing with hearing loss is not easy! However, it doesn’t mean you need to give up on music.

With the right tools and guidance, it is possible to lead a normal life even if you have a hearing impairment. This is especially true for musicians, who are more likely to suffer from this condition.

So, don’t let your hearing condition stop you from playing music. Keep playing!

Scroll to Top