Callier Warns Patients About Noise and Hearing Loss

Prevention Measures Highlighted During Better Speech and Hearing Month

May 4, 2009

“Can you hear me now?” may be a popular advertising slogan for a telecommunications company, but for the millions of Americans who suffer from a hearing loss, it’s a question that is frequently asked but often unanswered.

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month, and the audiologists at the UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders are busy educating patients about the dangers of noise-induced hearing loss and the products available to protect their hearing.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), more than 36 million Americans have some type of hearing problem. And although many people assume hearing loss is the result of aging, more than half of all hearing impaired persons are under the age of 65.

“A variety of factors cause hearing loss, but prolonged exposure to high levels of sound seems to be a major contributor,” said Dr. Ross Roeser, executive director emeritus of the Callier Center.  “The use of MP3 players at younger ages and for longer periods of time is a concern for many audiologists. The best advice I can give anyone who uses these devices is to turn it down.”

People don’t have to sacrifice their favorite tunes in order to protect their hearing. Safer, sound isolating headphones that allow the user to listen to music in noisy environments without turning up the volume are now available.

“We live in a noisy world, but that doesn’t mean people have to avoid their favorite activities in order to protect their hearing,” said Dr. Lee Wilson, head of audiology at the Callier Center. “At the Callier Center, we provide hearing protective devices that are both comfortable and practical, such as specially-designed ear plugs for hunters and musicians.”

Westone, a popular manufacturer of custom fit earplugs, has designed an earpiece “that allows the hunter to hear clearly until the weapon is fired and still have full hearing protection from the gunfire.”

The saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is true when it comes to hearing loss. And it’s never too early to begin protecting one’s hearing.

In a survey conducted by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), more than half of all high school students reported having at least one symptom of hearing loss.

To help combat this growing problem, ASHA created the “Listen to Your Buds” campaign to educate kids and parents about the dangers of loud music.

The American Academy of Audiology (AAA) has also been highly proactive in hearing loss prevention. At the 2009 national meeting in Dallas, several scientific sessions on the effects of high intensity sounds were presented to the audiologists in attendance. AAA has also created an innovative “Turn it To the Left” campaign that advises everyone to turn down the music.


Media Contact: Debra Brown, UT Dallas, (214) 905-3049, debra@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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Above: Safer headphones protect hearing from loud music generated by portable music devices.
At right: Ear plugs to prevent hunters' hearing from gun noises.

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