HUNLOCK CREEK, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Many of us may assume hearing loss is just an older person problem. The truth is it can affect any of us at any age. The Center for Hearing and Communication reports 48 million Americans have a significant hearing loss. As Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, a Luzerne County doctor with a unique perspective on hearing loss is making it her life’s work to help those dealing with this deficit.
For the first four years of her life, Dr. Kayla Bloom, Au.D. was walking around with a problem no one knew for sure she had. “They believe that I was born with it. It’s just that the testing standards at that point weren’t the best.”
Dr. Bloom had a roughly 60 percent hearing deficit in both ears. “They just missed it for all those years. There were little signs that people in my family were noticing.” Those signs included her speech lagging behind and she sat too close to the tv to hear it.
When Dr. Bloom was a child, auditory sensory testing relied on playing sounds to see if the baby stirred which often proved to be unreliable. “Now, they have testing called OAE’s, otoacoustic emissions, where when there’s a signal sent into the ear, the ear actually creates it’s own sort of response that this machine can pick up on.”
While hearing loss affects 5 of every 1,000 newborns, 15 percent of children between six and 19-years-old also have it. Even though pediatricians may screen for hearing loss, a mild stage of it can be missed. “Children that have even a mild hearing loss or a hearing loss only in one ear can sometimes compensate for that hearing loss and even those screenings can miss it. So, having a diagnostic hearing test done is the best,” said Dr. Bloom who diagnoses and treats patients at Back Mountain Hearing Care on Route 118 in Hunlock Creek.
Studies show even mild hearing loss can cause a child to miss listening in on as much as 50 percent of classroom discussion. Dr. Bloom recommends parents watch for such hearing loss signs as slowed speech development in their young children or if they’re not responding when you’re talking to them. If you believe there is a problem, consider seeing an audiologist for diagnostic testing.