Back-to-school checklists include everything from school supplies to new clothes to updated vaccinations. Another area that is also of importance is checking your child's hearing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 15 percent of school-aged children experience some degree of hearing loss in one or both ears. Any type of hearing loss, permanent or temporary, can affect a child’s speech, language, and social development in addition to the ability to learn.

Child Getting Hearing Checked
Some signs of hearing loss in children can include delayed speech, poor attention skills, turning the TV volume up too high, difficulty understanding in noisy situations and frequent ear infections. Children with hearing difficulties may not realize they have an issue and are sometimes mistakenly perceived as unmotivated academically.

Monitor your child’s noise levels. Headphones are a modern-day staple for children of all ages. When wearing headphones, sounds played at full volume can reach an average of 100-110 decibels. In general, sounds above 85 are harmful, depending on how long and how often you are exposed to them. Consistent exposure to noise levels that high can lead to the risk of hearing damage. Encourage your child to lower the volume and give their ears a break from the noise.

Sporting events can also be damaging to your child’s hearing. Whether your children are in the game or cheering on the sidelines, with the band playing, the crowd yelling and the cheerleaders cheering, sporting events can easily reach dangerous decibel levels. Make sure your child is wearing the appropriate hearing protection to protect them from this unsafe noise.

It’s important for children to have a routine hearing screening at the start of the school year. The screening itself is quick and painless. At the time of the screening, the physical condition of the ears will also be inspected by an audiologist. At the conclusion of the screening a “pass” indicates no further action is required while a “referral” means that the audiologist recommends a rescreen in about two weeks, or a full evaluation if a hearing problem is suspected.

For more information or to schedule a screening appointment for your child, call the Pennsylvania Ear Institute at 215.780.3180.