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World Hearing Day to recognize hearing loss

This Friday is World Hearing Day, a campaign held each year by the Office of Prevention of Blindness and Deafness of the World Health Organization.

Rachel Lingnau, an audiologist and assistant professor at Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) said this day serves as an “opportunity to help people realize that hearing loss exists” and that it is “absolutely treatable, and it should not be ignored.”

Lingnau has been an audiologist for 19 years, and has been at ENMU for seven.

She said hearing loss does not get the attention it deserves. After working in education, she said she saw the struggles that some kids had to face with hearing loss. “It’s not fair to them,” she said, which is why she has been an advocate for the hearing impaired.

Lingnau serves on a national board under the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) Advisory Council.

According to ASHA, approximately 48 million people in the United States have some degree of hearing loss. Some were born deaf and hard of hearing, while others developed hearing loss later in childhood or as an adult. They believe that regardless of the cause, intervention for hearing loss can offer life-changing benefits to people of every age.

Lingnau said there are numerous ways people can develop hearing loss, and suggests what they should be aware of. “Loud noise exposure can be caused from numerous jobs,” she said. Those include: industrial settings, equipment, and even certain hobbies.

However, she said a bigger concern nowadays is “loud noise exposure from frequent use of headphones.”

ASHA suggests using hearing protection to prevent hearing loss.This can range anywhere from earmuffs for children and earplugs for adults. ASHA also recommends taking listening breaks when in a noisy environment. “Ideally, once an hour for a few minutes.”

They say devices should also be kept to half volume or softer.

Lingnau said, “There are numerous ways (to get a hearing tests), whether it be an online hearing test.” She said the other options available include apps and to check with local providers.

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