May is Better Hearing and Speech Month

Montclair State's Center for Hearing and Balance to offer free hearing screenings

Montclair, New Jersey -- In honor of "Better Hearing and Speech Month," Montclair State University's Center for Hearing and Balance will offer free hearing screenings to the public from May - July 2009.

Open to individuals of all ages, the screenings are available Monday through Friday by appointment only at the Center's off-campus clinic at 855 Valley Rd, Suite 202, in Clifton. Interested parties should call 973-655- 7752 to schedule.

The non-invasive, pure tone screening takes only a few minutes to complete. If hearing loss is detected, a complete audiological evaluation will be offered. All testing is administered by one of Montclair State's 35 doctoral audiology students under the direct supervision of a licensed, certified Doctor of Audiology.

More than 35 million Americans suffer from hearing loss, making it one of the nation's most common disabilities. But the stigma of wearing hearing aids makes many people delay assessment and treatment, even when they notice their hearing deteriorating.

"The quality of hearing aids has improved dramatically in the past five to 10 years. The size of the aids is so small that most people do not even realize a person is wearing one," says Janet Koehnke, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

Though hearing loss has been seen as strictly a problem for the elderly, seniors over the age of 64 represent only 35 percent of those suffering from hearing loss.

Concern by audiologists about the health of hearing in children, teens and young adults is growing as the popularity of using earbuds to listen to personal music devices increases. Hearing damage begins to occur when sound exceeds 85dB Sound Pressure Level (SPL). Earbuds are capable of delivering sound upwards of 100dB SPL -- within an inch of the eardrum.

"Five million children and teens between age six and 19 -- or 13 percent -- have noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL)," explains Fredi Jarmel, Au.D., Center coordinator. "Young people wrongly assume that they can't suffer from hearing loss. Unfortunately, while some types of hearing loss can be treated, the damage caused by noise exposure cannot be reversed."

"It's important that parents and children learn more about the permanent damage that can be caused by exposure to loud music over a prolonged period of time," adds Koehnke. "And if parents notice any change in their children's hearing, or their child complains of symptoms such as muffled sounds or ringing in the ears, they should bring them to an audiologist for evaluation."

About the Center for Hearing and Balance

The Center for Hearing and Balance serves the audiologic needs of individuals at the University and in the surrounding communities and provides clinical training for students in the doctoral program in audiology. The Center for Hearing and Balance offers assessment and treatment services for children and adults with hearing impairment, auditory processing problems and/or balance concerns. Referrals are accepted from physicians, school personnel, and other professionals. Clients may also be self-referred.

The doctoral program in audiology at Montclair State University started in 2005. It is New Jersey's only doctoral program in audiology and is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA).

Released: April 28, 2009