Boot Camp Combats Kids’ Hearing Loss & Helps Swim Skills and Water Safety

Boot Camp Combats Kids’ Hearing Loss & Helps Swim Skills and Water Safety.

Living on the beautiful South Coast, our children are surrounded by exquisite beaches and waterways.  Our lucky South coast kids grow up with a love of the outdoors and this is evidenced by the number of families who flock to the Australian coastline every weekend and all Summer.

In 2016, the World Health Organisation reported that death by drowning is the 3rd highest unintentional way to die with an average of 30 children under 5 drowning in Australia every year.

So you may be asking your self – what does this have to do with hearing loss?  Well, there’s two important flow-on issues that can affect kids this Summer; safety around water, and eagerness towards learning to swim.

The number one fear parents face each Summer is the prevalent cases of drownings.  Something that we’re told is easily preventable with knowledge and early swimming lessons.  However, something else to consider is the affect hearing loss can have on children around water.  If children are having trouble hearing their surroundings (which they may not even realise), how can they make safe decisions, or hear warnings from those around them – like parents and lifeguards – in urgent situations?

The good news is, with the right advice and pro-activeness, this Summer can be a safe and productive one for kids and swimming!

The most common type of hearing loss in kids, is conductive hearing loss.  Conductive hearing loss can be caused by anything that causes the Eustachian tube (the tube that drains the middle ear) to block up.  Fluid backs up into the middle ear and makes it hard for sound to get through to the Cochlear (the organ of hearing).  A conductive hearing loss is not usually permanent but needs assistance from your doctor or ear specialist to clear the blockage.
One way for an ear specialist to clear the blockage is to drain the fluid using a “grommet”.  A grommet is like an olive on a pizza or an ‘O’ ring, it is placed in the ear drum during surgery and creates a hole in the ear drum allowing the fluid to drain away.  When your child has a hole in their ear drum they will be instructed to keep their ears dry.  Many of you may remember swim caps, ear plugs and headbands used to keep water out of kids ears. 

This is very effective at keeping the water out of the kids ears but it also keeps kids out of the water.  Imagine having to dress in all this claptrap every time you go to the beach to enjoy a swim.  Not only do you look irregular but it takes all the spontaneity out of a refreshing dip or play on the beach with your friends.  The fun of learning to swim is diminished, and this can have alarming affects on swim skills and water safety.

Otitis media is prevalent in young children. About 85% of children will experience at least one episode of otitis media by the time they start school. 

At Jervis Bay Hearing Centre we recorded that for every 3 children tested, 1 has a hearing loss.  That is 33% of kids tested at our centre are diagnosed with a hearing loss.  Most parents when asked, indicate the hearing test is just a check and they don’t suspect a loss.  A common course of management for persistent conductive loss is surgical intervention. 

At Jervis Bay Hearing Centre our Principal Clinician Alison Chiam has always had a keen interest in improving Paediatric Hearing outcomes.  Alison has used a regime of exercises as an option for parents to address conductive hearing loss.  The results of this type of intervention has been overwhelmingly successful with a reduction of 97% medical referral for intervention.  With the exercise program in place, only 3% of children diagnosed with a conductive hearing loss are referred on for specialist intervention. 

Communication development and behavioural skills are influenced by a child’s ability to hear. When hearing loss goes undetected or is detected late (after 6 months of age), language and speech development can be delayed. This delay can affect a child’s social interactions, emotional development and academic performance and of course if you live on the beach it can affect your opportunities to learn to swim too

If you would like more information about this program, please contact our staff, by clicking the button below, or calling us on 4441 8886

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