We don’t ever like to be negative about Christmas, but with hearing difficulties affecting almost one in six people in Ireland and more than four in five of those who could benefit from hearing loss treatment failing to seek help for up to fifteen years, social events at Christmas can prove to be a difficult time. Background noise at gatherings can cause listening difficulty for persons with normal hearing, so for people with any degree of hearing loss, the problem can be unbearable.
Studies have linked untreated hearing loss to feelings of stress, frustration, social isolation and depression and can cause further deterioration to your hearing. These symptoms can intensify at holiday gatherings with family and friends when many of those with hearing impairment may find conversation both difficult and isolating. The advice from Hidden Hearing is to talk to your family member or friend about their hearing loss, there is nothing to be embarrassed about, and help is easily available and accessible.
Christmas can also bring potential dangers to children’s hearing from toys which are too loud. Sounds that are 85 decibels or higher (an alarm clock sound can be 80 decibels) can permanently damage hearing over time, resulting in noise induced hearing loss. Parents are concerned about the safety of toys at this time of year, but few consider the impact of the noise of toys, games and MP3 players on their children’s hearing health. Parents need to be more aware of the potential dangers and take precautions such as looking for toys that have volume switches or putting masking tape over toy speakers. Noisy toys are an especially serious problem involving hearing loss because children ages 0-2 tend to hold the sound-making toy up against their tiny sensitive ears, so ensure that your young child is using the toy appropriately. The effects of noisy toys on hearing loss are not immediate but are cumulative and can go unnoticed until it is too late.
Discussing this issue, Dolores Madden from Hidden Hearing says: “Christmas is a time which should be enjoyed by all, so don’t be afraid to talk to your loved one if you think they aren’t enjoying it due to hearing loss.
“Noise induced hearing loss is entirely preventable, so keep an ear out for toys which might be too noisy or computer games which are being played at excessive volume levels. Awareness of our hearing health is something that can be communicated to our children at a young age. Have a great Christmas!”
Anybody who might be concerned about their hearing, can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide. You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit www.hiddenhearing.ie.