When the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) designated May as Better Hearing and Speech Month back in 1927, their goal was to raise awareness about speech and hearing challenges. More importantly it was a call to action to encourage people to treat their own hearing and speech problems. That mission is just as important today as it was 92 years ago. Maybe more so because today we know more about hearing loss and how important hearing is to our quality of life than ever before. This year the theme of Better Hearing and Speech Month is “Communication Across the Lifespan.” This includes the importance of preventing hearing loss, recognizing the signs early, and making the newest treatment available to as many people as possible.
Preventing Hearing Loss
Approximately 36 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss and one out of three have developed their hearing loss due to noise exposure. It can affect anyone of us regardless of age. Over 26 million Americans ages 20 to 69 years old already have permanent damage to their high frequency hearing that may be due to noise exposure. As one of the most common causes of hearing loss, noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) can be prevented. Noise can be harmful if you are exposed to it for an extended amount of time or if it is a very loud impact noise that is short in duration.
You may come into contact with harmful noises in any number of situations during your daily routine, at work or at home. Always be aware and responsive to potentially noisy occupational or recreational activities. Always make sure you have ear protection with you. Earplugs are light, reusable and can make a huge difference in protecting your hearing for the future. Remember to keep the volume on your personal listening devices lower than 60% of the possible level and limit the time you expose yourself to harmful noise.
Know the Signs of Hearing Loss
Unfortunately hearing loss cannot always be prevented. If you are suffering from hearing loss it’s important to know the signs so you can seek treatment. You may notice a number of early warning signs and changes in your behavior that may be related to hearing loss.
- Complain that people are mumbling or speaking too softly
- Strain to hear conversations, especially when in a group setting
- Frequently ask people to repeat what they have said in noisy situations
- Prefer the television or radio louder than other people
- Have difficulty hearing over the telephone
- Miss dialogue at the movies
- Find yourself more impatient, irritable, frustrated or withdrawn than before
- Have trouble understanding people when you cannot see their faces
Dangers of Untreated Hearing Loss
If any of this feels all too familiar, the best course of action is to contact us as Hearing Care Centers to set up a hearing test. Hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic health condition facing older adults. Unfortunately, only 20% of those individuals who might benefit from treatment seek help. Most tend to delay treatment until they cannot communicate even in the most ideal of listening situations. On average, hearing aid users wait over 10 years after their initial diagnosis to be fit with their first set of hearing aids. But hearing loss isn’t just an ear issue; it’s a quality of life and health issue. Untreated hearing loss can have serious consequences. A decrease in hearing sensitivity is associated with diminished cognitive function, balance, depression, isolation, lower earning power at work and even dementia.
Hearing Care Centers
There has never been a better time than now to need hearing aids. In the future, the innovative features of hearing aids will only be more affordable and accessible. With the latest styles, discreet sizes and wireless technology that connect consumers to the world around them, hearing aids are poised to enter the next decade as an essential and desired product. There has never been a better time to get your hearing tested and know for sure the status of your hearing. Use Better Hearing and Speech Month as a reason to act and contact us at Hearing Care Centers to set up a hearing test today. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.