Tag Archives: prevention

Hears to a New (Y)ear!

Top 5 things parents need to know about pediatric hearing loss 

Today, it seems almost impossible to avoid increased noise exposure– loud music, noisy toys, vehicles, snow blowers, TVs, drills, hairdryers and more! Especially during this time of year full of celebrations and gatherings, it is a good opportunity to make sure that the youngest members of your family are prepared for the additional noise exposure.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 5 million young people between ages 6 and 19 in the U.S. have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from noise exposure. Hearing is critical for a child’s safety and development of speech, listening, learning, and social skills, so it is important to start monitoring their hearing as early as possible.

Your child may have passed a newborn screening prior to leaving the hospital, but parent should still continue to monitor and protect their hearing. Moreover, if an infant fails a screening, it is crucial to follow-up with additional hearing tests no later than three months of age.

“Missed follow-up visits are rapidly becoming one of the most common reasons children with hearing loss miss out on critical interventions and support,” said Benjamin Cable, M.D., Pediatric Otolaryngologist with Carilion Clinic. “Those interventions work to keep a child on a normal developmental path.”

As a parent or caregiver, be aware that exposing a child over time to anything louder than 85 decibels can cause damage to sensitive structures in the inner ear.

“In practical terms,” explained Dr. Cable, “Any environment where the background noise would require raised voices or shouting to communicate could potentially be damaging to children who are exposed for more than short periods of time.”

Noise-induced hearing loss is usually gradual and painless, but can be permanent. Once sensory nerve cells are damaged, they do not regenerate.

As one might expect, the risk of permanent damage is higher with longer exposure. Damage also occurs more quickly with increasing loudness. There are also non-auditory consequences of repeated noise exposure, including increased stress and irritability with reduced relaxation and concentration.

What can parents do to reduce their children’s risk of damage?

  • Avoid or limit exposure to loud sounds when possible.
  • When not possible, use hearing protection.
  • Noise-cancelling headphones are best for babies and children. Consider the child’s age as well as weight, size, comfort level and the noise cancellation rating of protectors.
  • Kids two years and under need earmuffs that are lightweight and will not put strain on neck muscles and bones. They will provide the highest level of noise cancellation.

Hearing loss including noise induced loss can be detected with a hearing test conducted by an audiologist. No child is too young for hearing testing. Agencies in the Roanoke Valley providing audiological services include:

  • Carilion Clinic Otolaryngology (540-224-5170)
  • Hearing Health Associates (540-774-4441)
  • Jefferson Surgical Clinic (540-283-6023)
  • The Hearing Clinic (540-553-8626)
  • Roanoke Valley Speech and Hearing Center (540-343-0165)

Visit www.ehdipals.org  for a national web-based directory of facilities providing pediatric audiology services.

For more information check out the following:

About the authors: Debbie Williams, Molly Brown, Emily Guill, and Megan Harrison are speech-language pathologists at Carilion Children’s Pediatric Therapy.


Women and Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease has a striking impact on the lives of individuals, but it can be especially strong for women–whether they are living with the disease or they are caregivers, relatives, friends, or loved ones of those directly affected.

So, why do we feel that women are impacted more significantly than their male counterparts? The answer is that we do not completely understand the why but we do know that Alzheimer’s dementia disproportionately affects women in a variety of ways. According to Alzheimer’s Association research, women are 2.5 times more likely to provide 24-hour care for an affected relative than males. Many of them have been forced to quit work or reduce their work schedules to do so. This can have a long-term effect on them financially, emotionally, and physically.

In addition, women make up nearly two-thirds of the more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s today.  The Alzheimer’s Association states in their 2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, that an estimated 3.3 million women aged 65 and older in the United States have this disease.

Researchers are passionately working to determine if or why women develop the disease at a higher rate than men. Even though women live longer than men and age is a significant risk factor, researchers suggest that longevity alone may not account for the unequal disease burden that women face. Studies have revealed that there may be distinct biological and genetic factors shaping how the disease develops and progresses in women.

The Alzheimer’s Association concludes that more research is needed to understand the different roles that genetics, hormones and lifestyle factors play in Alzheimer’s in men and women. Several factors now in the spotlight that are potentially modifiable are years of education, occupation, exercise, diet, stress, anxiety and sleep. A better understanding of these differences will be extremely important as we move forward with more effective strategies for treating, preventing, and diagnosing Alzheimer’s.

With all the unknowns, we can say that Alzheimer’s disease remains one of the most critical public health issues in America. The Alzheimer’s Association is the leader in advocating for public policy issues and critical research funding. Call 1.800.272.3900 or www.alz.org to see how you can join the fight.

Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures reports and excerpts from “Sex biology contributions to vulnerability to Alzheimer’s disease”: A think tank convened by the Women’s Alzheimer’s Research Initiative.  The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Submitted by Annette Clark, MsG, Alzheimer’s Association, Family Services Director


Healthy Relationships for Your Teenager

Parenting for Healthy Relationships

As a parent, you might assume that your teen knows what a “good” relationship looks like and how to develop one. Teens need to learn about “violence-free” relationships, and what it takes to engage in healthy relationships. Information, awareness, and the attention of parents will ensure their children can identify a healthy relationship.

teen dating

Characteristics of Healthy Relationships 

A healthy relationship includes more than feelings of love, passion, affection, and shared likes and dislikes. Parents and other adults can engage teens in discussing the following characteristics of healthy relationships:

Give and take: both partners get their way some of the time and compromise some of the time

  • Respect: valuing one another’s opinions and accepting each other for who they are
  • Support and encourage: being positive with each other’s goals, ambitions, friendships, and activities outside the relationship
  • Trust, without jealous restrictions
  • Emotionally and physically safe: feeling comfortable being themselves without the fear of being put down or hurt
  • Communicate openly and honestly, and allowing partners feel safe in expressing themselves

 Parents’ Roles

As your child goes through stages of adolescence, you have an important role to play in your teen’s ability to have good relationships with peers and intimate partners. Parents evolve from being “managers” who are actively in charge of almost everything in their child’s life, to “consultants” who provide an important connection, along with values, information, and feedback, supporting their children’s increasing abilities to make decisions for themselves.


Encourage your teen to think about his or her relationships, both present and future, by discussing healthy relationships, pointing out features of relationships they see in books and movies, and opening a dialogue so they can think about what they want in a boyfriend or girlfriend. This will help them to identify differences between relationships that are built on respect and those that are not.

Parents can be great resources for teens with open communication, being aware and informed, fostering good self-esteem and empowerment, encouraging assertiveness, talking about sensitive and volatile issues with teens, and respecting their opinions and emotions.

One of the most effective ways of teaching a child about healthy relationships is to model positive qualities in your own relationships. Even if you think your teen is not listening to your conversations with your partner, they often are.

Guidelines for Conversations with Teens

Create opportunities for discussion by “showing up” in a relaxed manner when you know your teen is available: hang out with them at night, or drive someplace together. Or you can ask your teen questions about something they read or saw, and take interest in your teen’s opinion. It is important for parents to include same sex couples in their discussions, to let teens know that these issues are important for all relationships.

Parents can take advantage of “teachable moments” when the subject of relationships comes up. For example, after watching a movie together, ask about the relationship in the movie and what they think worked and didn’t work. When they see something in the media about famous actors or sports figures, discuss those relationships. If there is a situation involving someone they know, chat with your teen about what he or she thinks about the situation.

Conversation Starters

Open-ended questions can start a conversation with teens. Use these opportunities to have a relaxed dialogue about different points of view. Here are some examples of open-ended questions to ask:

  • “What do you think about [a situation in a TV show….]?”
  • “I saw your friend at the mall with her boyfriend. How do you think their relationship is going?”
  • “What if your date drinks at a party and wants to drive you home? How would you handle that?”
  • “Did you notice how different guys treated [a woman in a movie you watched together]? Which guy do you think did the right thing and why?”

Teen relationships provide a way to experiment and practice for future long-term relationships and marriages. Talking with your teen about what they are looking for in their relationships will help him or her develop healthy relationship skills, and teach them differences between unhealthy, abusive behavior and healthy behavior. Then your teen will begin to understand what it takes to be a healthy relationship partner: to be treated with respect and to treat others with respect.


About the authors:

Barrie Levy and Patti Giggans are co-authors of When Dating Becomes Dangerous: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Relationship Abuse. Patti is the executive director of Peace Over Violence, and blogs regularly for The Joyful Heart Foundation, which was founded by Mariska Hargitay from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Barrie, a violence prevention specialist, is the editor of Dating Violence, a collection of writings about adolescent dating abuse and violence.