Posted on Thursday, May 08, 2014

May is Better Hearing & Speech Month!

Balloons and ribbon being cut for Better Hearing & Speech Month

Since 1927 the public health campaign that is Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM) has focused awareness on the problems and solutions of speech, language, and hearing. Difficulty with communication affects every aspect of a person's life-- relationships, work, and everyday chores. That’s why it's so important to have a month dedicated to making people aware of hearing loss, its symptoms, and solutions.

Communication is an essential human need. It allows for self-expression, interaction, friendship, and makes everyday tasks easier.

An estimated forty million people in the United States have some type of hearing loss. Noise induced hearing loss is currently the number one way people lose their hearing, and it is on the rise with the increasing use of earbuds and MP3. Age induced hearing loss is the second most common form of hearing loss. 30-40% of people over 65 have some type of hearing loss. Despite the rise of hearing loss many people remain unaware of the important signs of hearing loss. That's why organizations like American Speech-Language-Hearing Association work hard in May to help create awareness.

An advocate for Better Hearing and Speech Month American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has chosen the Identify the Signs as their theme for this month. Knowing the signs of hearing loss is extremely important as many people dismiss the most common symptoms or don’t recognize them at all.

Common Symptoms of Hearing Loss

  • Tinnitus: Tinnitus is not a condition in and of itself, but a symptom of an underlying problem. This ringing or buzzing in the ears can be high pitched, intermittent or constant. It is sometimes accompanied by vertigo and is often a symptom of hearing loss.
  • Repeating: Asking to have things repeated often can be a symptom of hearing loss. Don’t dismiss the possibility, because you only ask for repetition during certain situations—on the cell phone, when speaking to a female, or a child. These are all symptoms of higher level hearing loss.
  • Volume: Does your spouse accuse you of not paying attention or of turning up the volume on the television too loud? Your spouse might think you are being rude, but in actuality this can be a symptom of hearing loss.
  • Inability to Hear Female or Child Voices: Females and children speak in a higher register, so one of the first symptoms of hearing loss that is often dismissed is the inability to hear these higher pitched voices. If you consistently feel that women or children are mumbling around you, this is a warning sign you need to see your audiologist.
  • Depression: According to Dr. Claudia Dewane in her article Hearing Loss in Older Adults--Its Effect on Mental Health, "Hearing loss can create a psychological solitary confinement." This confinement can lead to feelings of depression that are quite often misconstrued, so that the cause--hearing loss, is not even recognized.
  • Isolation and Social Anxiety: Difficulty hearing in crowds or an inability to decipher what is being said are two reasons that people suffering from hearing loss tend to isolate themselves. They are anxious about responding inappropriately or looking "out of touch." Often people don’t pursue these feelings, assuming they are emotional, but in fact they can be symptoms of discomfort in communicating with others due to hearing loss. Note: Hearing loss is more pronounced in social situations where there is an increase in background noise.
  • Some Sounds Seem too Loud: This may seem contrary to hearing loss, but this phenomena is due to the fact that other parts of hearing, different registers like high-pitched frequencies, are missing. Therefore when a register that is not missing travels to the ears, an individual with hearing loss is startled by the sound.
  • Though many people have their cholesterol, heart, and eyes checked regularly, hearing is often neglected though it impacts every aspect of a person’s life. Taking care of hearing is one of the most important things a person can do to stay healthy both mentally and physically. Please help raise awareness this Better Hearing and Speech Month not only about the difficulties these conditions can pose for individuals, but about the dire need to have hearing checked.

    If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

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