This week is National Speech Pathology Week! (Aug 19-25)
We often see children who have been referred to us by their speech pathologists because of concerns for their language and/or speech. Sometimes it's because of pronunciation difficulties, other times it is from delays in their language skills. Speech and language development is heavily reliant on a child's ability to hear what is being said around them (1) and early intervention is key to improving language outcomes in children with hearing problems (2).
If you have any concerns with your child's hearing, feel free to contact the clinic to arrange a comprehensive assessment by one of our audiologists.
For more information about hearing loss in children, click here and for information about Speech Pathology Week 2018, click here.
1. Tomblin, J. B., Oleson, J. J., Ambrose, S. E., Walker, E., & Moeller, M. P. (2014). The influence of hearing aids on the speech and language development of children with hearing loss. JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, 140(5), 403-409.
2. Ching, T. Y. (2015). Is early intervention effective in improving spoken language outcomes of children with congenital hearing loss?. American journal of audiology, 24(3), 345-348.
Hearing losses are often described as being either congenital or acquired; congenital losses are present at (or soon after) birth while acquired losses occur later on in life. It is dependent on the affected areas within the hearing system which determine how the hearing loss as categorized.
The main types of hearing losses include:
Conductive: Conductive losses can be caused by damage or blockages in the outer ear, middle ear or both. Typically affecting the loudness of sounds, a conductive loss interferes with the ability for sound to pass into the inner ear. The degree of hearing loss varies depending on the cause of the conductive loss; typically causes include wax blockages, abnormal bone growths, ear infections or from a perforated eardrum. Conductive losses can be treated by medical means (eg medication or surgical options) or with hearing technologies (eg bone conduction hearing aids).
Sensorineural: Sensorineural hearing losses are caused by damage or a malfunction within the cochlea (permanent hearing organ) or along the hearing nerve. This can be from natural wear-and-tear (aging/presbycusis), accidents, diseases, certain medications or excessive noise exposure. Almost always permanent, there is rarely any medical management for sensorineural losses aside from hearing devices like hearing aids, or cochlear implants.
Mixed: A mixed hearing loss is seen when there is a problem in both a conductive and sensorineural hearing loss present. Eg a conductive loss from an ear infection as well as a sensorineural loss from presbycusis.
Processing Disorders: Often present from early childhood, Auditory Processing Disorders (APD) arise when the brain has difficulties recognizing and interpreting the meaning of sounds (eg speech).
If you haven't had your hearing tested in a while or have noticed a recent change, why not come in for a check-up. Routine assessments are strongly recommended for monitoring purposes regardless of your age; we can assess from 6 months of age up to adults. Contact the clinic to arrange an appointment today.
An audiologist is a allied health professional who specializes in the non-medical management of hearing and balance disorders for both adults and children. Their main aim is to help clients preserve, manage and improve their ability to hear and process sounds, as well as their balance. This is often done though performing diagnostic tests including methods using electrophysiological techniques. Audiologists do not just undertake hearing assessments and fit hearing devices, but also focus on rehabilitation and evaluation of more complex hearing issues, including tinnitus, auditory processing and neural functioning.
Some areas that audiologists can address include:
Clinical audiologists often work in multi-disciplinary teams with other primary health practitioners to help clients with their hearing loss and related concerns by determining their need for medical and/or rehabilitative interventions. Audiologists should not be confused with audiometrists, clinicians who complete non-university (eg TAFE) vocational studies in hearing assessments, device fittings and management. Audiometrists often work under the direction of audiologists.
To become an audiologist and full members of the Australian professional body for audiologists, clinicians are required to complete at least five years at university, including the equivalent of an Australian University’s Masters-level degree in clinical Audiology. Following the completion of their studies, audiologists are required to undertake ongoing postgraduate training by attending seminars, conferences and training courses. Here at Sydney Hearing Services, our clinicians are full members of Audiology Australia who hold current Certificates of Clinical Practice.
If you feel any concerns regarding your hearing, feel free to contact the clinic to book in for a full diagnostic assessment with one of our audiologists.
All children born in Australia are required to undertake a comprehensive hearing assessment within the first few weeks of birth (eg NSW has the SWISH [State Wide Infant Screening Hearing] Program) which allows for the early identification of any congenital hearing difficulties and encourages prompt intervention for these children. Some children may be more likely to experience hearing loss, especially those:
Even if children passes this newborn test, they can still develop hearing problems throughout childhood. There are multiple causes of hearing loss in children, many of which can be corrected through medical intervention (eg wax or fluid buildup). Some signs of hearing difficulties to be aware of may include:
It is recommended that children have their hearing tested regularly during childhood and throughout their schooling life (with some schools even requiring a base-line test to be completed before a child can start kindergarten). Rates of hearing loss for school-aged children in Australia have been found to be between 3.4% and 12.8% (1) where even a mild undiagnosed hearing impairment can significantly influence their academic outcomes (and employment prospects) as well as their ability to develop language, speech, emotional and social connections.
If you are in any way concerned with your child’s hearing ability, further investigation may be warranted. Feel free to contact the clinic to arrange a full pediatric hearing assessment with one of our qualified audiologists.
(1) Choi, S.M.R., Kei, J., & Wilson, W.J. (2016). Rates of Hearing Loss in Primary School Children in Australia: A Systematic Review. Speech, Language and Hearing. doi: 10.1080/2050571X. 2016. 1259199
Earwax (or cerumen) is normally secreted by glands in the ear and important in lubricating the ear canal, removing excess dirt, and protecting the inner portions of the ear from insects, fungus and water. Everyone generally produces different amounts of wax and for most people, the ears are “self-cleaning” – as skin in the ear grows outwards, it drags the wax out too. There are some people who can develop excessive wax build up and it is best removed by someone who has had proper training (ie your GP, ENT or audiologist). Typically, before the wax is removed, wax softener (bought from a chemist/pharmacist) should be used to ensure the wax is extracted easily. There are three main techniques to remove wax:
Cotton buds should NEVER be used to clean the ear canal. They typically push the wax further into the canal, compacting it and causing more problems. Buds can also result in scratches along the canal walls, hearing loss, ear infections and even eardrum perforations. Ear candling should also NEVER be attempted. While it is claimed to help remove wax, ear candles have been found to have no scientific impact on earwax, often resulting in burnt ears, infections, and candle wax dripping into the ear (1).
Should you feel your ears are blocked with wax, contact your doctor for further investigation. If the wax be too deep or impacted, a referral to an ENT is advisable. Following wax removal, if your hearing still appears impaired, a full investigation by our audiologists can be arranged. Contact the clinic for more details.
1. Seely, D.R., Quigley, S.M. & Langman, A.W. (1996). Ear candles – efficacy and safety. Laryngoscope, 106, 1226-1229.
It’s the beginning of the year and many of us have established New Year’s Resolutions to become fit and improve our health. Annual health checks are generally recommended to keep your body in top physical condition, and often include blood pressure, eye and teeth checks. But what about your ears? Many people may not know how often to have their hearing checked while others may never have had theirs tested.
Hearing loss is a natural occurrence and effects everyone differently. It is typically gradual and often goes unnoticed until major difficulties are experienced or those closest around you say you are not hearing them well. Not only can hearing loss affect a person’s ability to communicate and stay socially connected, but it can also have a drastic effect on their quality of life (1), with research finding that untreated hearing losses can lead to significant cognitive decline (2) as well as embarrassment and social isolation (3). As soon as you feel there is any change in your hearing, a full diagnostic assessment with one of our audiologists is recommended.
Earlier identification and management of a hearing loss can mean significantly better outcomes in the long run. If you have never had your hearing tested, an initial baseline test is recommended for future comparisons. From this test, your audiologist will initially determine if there is any level of hearing loss as well as the overall health of your ears before advising you when to return for reassessment. As a general rule of thumb, hearing tests are recommended every 2-5 years depending on your age and hearing.
Noticed a sudden change in your hearing? Last-minute appointments can be arranged with our audiologists for further investigation.
Contact the clinic for further information or to arrange a hearing test with one of our clinicians today.
(1) Ciorba, A., Bianchini, C., Pelucchi, S., & Pastore, A. (2012). The impact of hearing loss on the quality of life of elderly adults. Clin Interv Aging, 7(6), 159-163.
(2) Lin, F. R., Yaffe, K., Xia, J., Xue, Q. L., Harris, T. B., Purchase-Helzner, E., Satterfield, S., Ayonayon, H.N., Ferrucci, L., Simonsick, E.M. & Health ABC Study Group. (2013). Hearing loss and cognitive decline in older adults. JAMA internal medicine, 173(4), 293-299.
(3) Mick, P., Kawachi, I., & Lin, F. R. (2014). The association between hearing loss and social isolation in older adults. Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, 150(3), 378-384.