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May is Better Hearing and Speech Month! This initiative is invested in raising awareness about communication disorders and life-changing solutions. Organized by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), this year’s campaign is centered on the theme: building connections. This emphasizes taking the necessary action to prioritize your health and wellness.
A critical focus of Better Hearing and Speech Month is hearing loss: the third most common chronic medical condition that older adults experience today. Impacting an estimated 48 million people, hearing loss is a pervasive health concern that is often underdiagnosed. Changes to hearing health typically happen gradually so it can remain unnoticed for quite some time. Additionally, it can be difficult for people to acknowledge their hearing loss which leads to a delay in treatment. It is incredibly important to not only intervene as soon as you experience symptoms but to also invest in preventative care which can transform your health!
Hearing Loss Symptoms & Impact
There are a variety of factors that can cause hearing loss including: existing medical conditions (hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease etc.), environmental exposure to loud noise, genetic history, aging, and head injuries. These factors reduce a person’s ability to absorb and process sound which produces numerous symptoms that can be experienced mildly to severely. Common hearing loss symptoms include:
- Tinnitus: a buzzing or ringing like noise in the ears
- Increasing the volume on electronic devices like TV, phone, speaker etc.
- Sounds are muffled making it hard to identify individual words
- Asking others to speak loudly, repeat themselves, or speak slowly
- Difficulty following entire conversations especially in settings with background noise
- Needing to move to a quieter space to have a conversation
- Being able to hear more clearly in one ear compared to the other
These unpleasant symptoms prevent people from fully hearing and being present throughout the conversation. People with untreated hearing loss often over exert themselves in trying to hear any may read lips, pretend to hear, ask to repeat etc. This can create fatigue as well as miscommunication.
Strained communication can lead to people choosing to avoid social interactions altogether. Social withdrawal is a common effect of hearing loss which impacts social life and relationships. Isolation also affects mental health by contributing to loneliness, depression, and anxiety. Additionally, untreated hearing loss increases the risk of developing conditions like cognitive decline and experiencing accidental injuries. Treating hearing loss reduces these risks and transforms hearing health which has positive outcomes on overall health and quality of life.
Benefits of Treatment
Hearing loss is highly treatable which is why early intervention is so important! There are effective solutions for hearing loss that radically improve hearing health. The most common treatment is hearing aids which are medically prescribed electronic devices. These devices are designed to collect, amplify, and process sound; providing ample hearing support. This maximizes hearing capacity and enables people to hear much more clearly and with greater ease; having countless benefits including:
- Strengthens Communication: hearing aids alleviate symptoms that strain communication while providing hearing support. This allows people to participate in conversations and communicate more effectively.
- Improves Relationships: effective communication is necessary for a healthy relationship. Treating hearing loss strengthens the quality time you spend with others. It also allows others to meet your hearing needs and participate in creating accessible environments where your hearing is supported.
- Enhances Social Life: being able to engage with confidence and ease boosts confidence and independence. This helps people navigate social spaces with more presence, clarity, and awareness; enriching social interactions.
- Improves Health: treating hearing loss reduces the risk of developing associated medical conditions including cognitive decline, depression, and accidental injuries. Hearing aids also improve cognitive abilities and increase spatial awareness which is critical for safety.
- Improves Job Performance: strengthened communication enables people to manage professional responsibilities more effectively. Additionally, treating hearing loss provides access for workplace accommodations which support hearing health in the workplace!
You can commit to prioritizing your hearing health this month by scheduling an appointment for a hearing test. This is the first simple step to transform your hearing which you can do by contacting us!