CDC Report Highlights Hearing Loss as Growing Public Health Concern

Most clinical audiologists are directly involved in the identification and management of hearing loss. It is, after all, common practice for audiologists to complete a case history and basic assessment to determine if the individual has a medical condition requiring a medical referral. Those individuals that do not have a “red flag” medical condition involving the ear, assuming they are motivated, become candidates for other forms of remediation, usually hearing aids.

Relatively recently, however, it is hearing loss as a public health issue that has attracted the attention of researchers around the world. Just one week ago Cochlear pledged $10 million to John Hopkins University to study the impact hearing loss has on public health. From a public health perspective, it is the health outcomes of an entire community, not the individual that is of interest.

Last week, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading national public health institute of the United States, published Grand Rounds: Promoting Hearing Health Across the Lifespan. It’s a document that clearly describes the prevalence of hearing loss, many of the underlying causes and ways to prevent it.

Experts indicate that hearing loss is the third most commonly reported chronic health condition in the US and untreated hearing loss has been linked to a number of other conditions, including anxiety, depression, loneliness, and stress. The World Health Organization estimates that over 5% of the world’s population – 360 million people – has disabling hearing loss.


The CDC Report highlights that a whopping 14% of the work age population (27.7 million Americans) has hearing loss and 22 million workers are exposed to hazardous levels of noise in the workplace. The report indicates that non-occupational noise exposure is also a contributing factor to the large number of young adults having hearing loss.


The CDC’s Grand Rounds report discussed other factors affecting hearing health as well as initiatives to improve individual and societal outcomes regarding hearing. In addition, the report called for a coordinated public health efforts to reduce hearing loss that go beyond clinical service and traditional areas of diagnosis, treatment and research with a focus on epidemiologic monitoring, health promotion and disease prevention.  These represent opportunities for audiologists and other hearing care professionals to get more involved in public health initiatives.

One of the authors of the CDC report is Deanna Meinke, PhD, professor of audiology at the University of Northern Colorado and co-director of Dangerous Decibels, a public health campaign designed to reduce the incidence and prevalence of noise induced hearing loss by knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of school-aged children.

A primary task of the CDC is to protect public health and safety through the control and prevention of disease, injury, and disability in the US and internationally. The CDC, according to their website, focuses much of its attention on infectious disease, food borne pathogens, environmental health, occupational safety and health, health promotion, injury prevention and educational activities designed to improve the health of United States citizens.

Written by: Brian Taylor

Can My Child Learn To Play A Musical Instrument With Their Hearing Loss?

By: Ellie Parfitt for



I always say that anything is possible in life, although it would be a perfectly understandable assumption for people to think that some activities could be too difficult for deaf people.

Some might believe that music isn’t the easiest medium for deaf or hard of hearing people to access, but luckily there are many inspirational deaf musicians, such as Mandy HarveySean Forbes and Evelyn Glennie who are fantastic ambassadors and proof that music can be enjoyable to all.

Inspirational Role Models

Our very own hEARo Eloise Garland, musician, teacher and singer promotes full inclusion and access to music. Her passion shines through and her message she conveys to others is how important and accessible music can be to deaf people. She runs workshops and teaches deaf children and young people who thrive from her knowledge, insight and love of the beauty of music.

Learning to play an instrument

As a parent, you might not have previously considered if your child could learn to play a musical instrument. Especially in my situation, learning to communicate and keeping up with my peers at school was hard enough. I don’t think my parents even really contemplated the idea to start with, as there were so many other priorities.

I’m not sure where my interest came from really. My mother was quite musical. Not brilliantly so, but she clearly had a love of music of any form. They say that babies can hear music from the womb. I learnt recently that when I was a young baby, she would always have the radio playing in the background for me to listen to. How ironic and sad for her to learn nearly a year later that I could never have heard any of the music as I had been born profoundly deaf.

‘Don’t stop me now!’

That didn’t stop me though thankfully. As my mum had played the clarinet when she was younger, she asked for a new instrument for her 40th birthday. When she opened her prized gift, as an inquisitive child I asked if I could ‘have a go’. Well that was the last she saw of her present! From that moment on I started to play, went on to have lessons, passed my first exam, played in a wind band and discovered a whole new world of notes, rhythms and melodies.

Challenges along the way

It won’t always be easy. As any child, it might be a bit of trial and error to find the right instrument for your child. As with learning everything, there will be highs and lows, but it should be something you learn for pleasure first and foremost.  To date, I still can’t read music very well and I can’t hear the difference between tones which are close together, but these and other challenges haven’t been a problem. Often when I was practising pieces or musical scales for exams in my bedroom, I would hear my mum bellow “C sharp” when I played a wrong note which I couldn’t hear, it was hilarious for me and probably painful for them to hear all the wrong notes!

Music for all

Music impacts all our lives in so many forms. There is no reason why it shouldn’t be the same for deaf people. Even for those who are profoundly deaf, rhythm through touch and sensation can be accessible, therapeutic, stimulating and meaningful. It is amazing to me that a few dots on a page can be translated and transformed into a beautiful tune. How our musicians, composers and songwriters can continually invent and bring to life silent instruments and pages of notes into memorable and uplifting melodies. Music can be so powerful. It can evoke memories or tell a story. Why shouldn’t we as deaf people join in, benefit from and enjoy the delights of creating our own beauty from sound?

A few tips:

1. Individual lessons

It might be worth considering individual lessons for your child as they might benefit from 1:1 teaching.

2. Assistance from a person with music knowledge

It is often more helpful for a child to practise with someone with a basic knowledge of music who can assist them. It is usually more enjoyable than learning on their own.

3. Find what help options are best for you

As your child progresses they might need different ways of helping them.  (When I was studying for my first exam, my teacher used visual cues when she accompanied me with the piano)

4. Contact the examining board ahead of time

For exams, it is always advisable to contact the examining board at the time of applying in case some of the parts of the exam are not suitable for a deaf child.  They can usually make adjustments and give more time. I couldn’t pitch my voice to do the aural part, but it didn’t matter.

5. Play in a band!

Playing in a group or a band is always possible in the future. (For me, a friend or a relative came along and pointed to the music so I could keep in time)


Five Signs of Hearing Loss You Shouldn’t Ignore


When To Consider a Hearing Test


Do people seem to mumble or speak too softly much of the time? Do family members get tired of repeating themselves? If so, consider getting your hearing checked. Hearing aids can help — and they’re improving all the time.

While they can’t restore your hearing, hearing aids will help you hear sounds you previously had trouble detecting. They can help you keep up with all the conversations going on around you.

The thing is, you may miss out on more than a few words or sentences.

How does your hearing loss affect you?

There are sometimes serious medical and psychological consequences of hearing loss if it isn’t managed early, says audiologist Craig Newman, PhD, Vice Chair and Section Head of Allied Hearing, Speech, and Balance Services at Cleveland Clinic.

Researchers have found that reduced hearing may be associated with cognitive decline. Those with hearing loss often have a poorer spatial awareness, which could increase a person’s risk of falling, he says.

There’s also the danger of a reduced awareness of what’s going on around you.

“If you don’t hear well and are driving, you won’t hear the sirens of an ambulance or a police car,” Dr. Newman says. “If you’re walking, you won’t hear people running behind you or riding bicycles behind you as easily.”

Some people with hearing loss compensate by avoiding activities and social settings. But you shouldn’t just give up on the things you enjoy doing, he says.

“If you withdraw from social situations, it could create social isolation and potentially lead to withdrawal and possibly even depression,” Dr. Newman says. “Wearing hearing aids will keep you connected to family, friends and co-workers and allow you to participate in your favorite activities.”

How to tell if you’re having hearing problems

Here are five warning signs that you may suffer from hearing loss:

  1. You frequently think others are mumbling
  2. Your often strain to hear someone speak
  3. You ask people to repeat themselves, especially when you’re in a noisy setting, such as a restaurant or during family gatherings
  4. You crank up the volume on the television or radio — louder than others in the room find comfortable
  5. You have difficulty hearing at movies, theaters, or at other large social gatherings

“If you’re experiencing any of these social or situational problems, you should get evaluated by an audiologist,” Dr. Newman says. If you need hearing aids, he or she can help you choose the best kind.

















Toys For Tots

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