September 25, 2020

By ANDREW SOULSBY

During Health and Wellness Week, students from Doon’s medical wing tested the timeless adage, out of sight, out of mind.
In the pursuit of raising awareness for noise induced hearing loss, students from the two-year hearing instrument specialist (HIS) program walked throughout the campus testing students’ earphones for volume.
“We’re finding iPod volume levels are down which is pretty good,” the program’s co-ordinator and audiologist, Calvin Staples, said. Last summer during a similar test, of the 70 earphones that were checked, five or six were well above safe listening levels, he said.
“About 90 decibels (dB) and below is safe, anything above that and you’re starting to get damage,” Staples said. “You’ve got hours (of listening time) between 90 and 95, but as you get closer to 100 dB it starts to get in the minute range and at 105 it’s down to three, four or five minutes before damage will occur.”
Results from the day’s tests showed students typically had their volumes set to 90 dB and below, however, during last year’s test some students had their volumes set as high as 100 to 105 dB.
“Most of them didn’t care, which I find fascinating,” he said, indicating their apathy might stem from their age. “You’re 20, you’re 19, of course you don’t care.”
However, the nature of hearing loss itself could also indicate why there is a lack of concern among younger generations.
“Hearing loss to me is like putting something out in the sun – it just fades over time,” Staples said. The damage may not occur today, but could surface five or 10 years later.
“When you’re 20, that puts you as a 30- to-35-year-old with a hearing loss, which is a little too early,” he said.
According to the Hearing Foundation of Canada, “hearing loss is the fastest growing, and one of the most prevalent, chronic conditions facing Canadians today.” While the cause of hearing loss varies from case-to-case, the two most significant contributors are age and noise related. Statistics Canada reported in 2002 more than one million Canadians suffer from a hearing-related disability.
While some students were raising awareness throughout the campus, Larissa Luke, a first-year hearing HIS student, carefully navigated the program’s video otoscope inside Gina Pereira’s ear.
“Ew … Wow,” the second-year practical nursing student said as she looked at lumps of earwax in her inner ear on the instrument’s display. Luke beamed in satisfaction.
“I love it,” Luke said about her program. “I am hard of hearing myself so, I’ve learned so much because I didn’t really know anything about it before.”
Luke described the class of 40 as being a tightly knit group of friends taught by amazing teachers.
This year’s class represents the first time in the program’s six-year history that all of the students were enrolled full-time. In years past, according to Staples, the program was a mixture of full- and part-time students, however, due to the program’s growing popularity the switch to full-time enrolment was made.
“Our program is so well known now, it’s only six years old and I would think we’re one of, if not the best program in the country,” Staples said.