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APR

Posted on Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What is Better Hearing and Speech Month?

Opportunity street sign. Better hearing and speech month is an opportunity to focus on communication.

Communication is an essential human need. It allows for self-expression, interaction, friendship, and makes everyday tasks easier. Difficulty with communication affects every aspect of a person's life--from relationships, work, to going to a grocery store. Better Hearing and Speech Month is a public health campaign that has focused awareness on the problems and solutions of speech, language, and hearing since 1927.

Sounds -- both the ones we hear and the ones we make -- help us to understand others and be understood. Ronald Reagan

Hearing: In 1986 when Ronald Reagan made the above statement, 15 million people suffered from hearing loss. Today, an estimated forty million people in the United States have some type of hearing loss. The advent of MP3, earbuds, large tools and trade equipment in the workplace have contributed to this rise. Protecting the delicate hair cells within the inner ear is essential, and the need for people to recognize the damage being done daily to hearing is a main rallying cry for Better Hearing and Speech Month.

It is more important than ever to talk about hearing loss prevention.

Though it is common practice to provide a set of protective goggles to someone riding an ATV or working around heavy equipment, few people realize protection also needs to be provided for ears. Ways to protect hearing include awareness of loud decibels on MP3 players, earplugs for those in jobs with mechanized equipment, and avoiding medicine that damages hearing (ototoxicity).

Untreated hearing loss leads to physical and emotional complications.

People who suffer with hearing loss need to take action. Maintaining or improving hearing is one of the most important things people can do to stay healthy. Untreated hearing loss has been shown to impact self-esteem, brain function, emotional health, and has been linked to other physical ailments like vertigo, tinnitus, and falls. The good news is today's discoveries about hearing health, how hearing works, and the latest technological advances have allowed for some truly miraculous hearing loss solutions. Listening technologies can now be customized for performance and comfort.

Language is the set of rules, shared by the individuals who are communicating, that allows them to exchange those thoughts, ideas or emotions in order to express and receive information in a meaningful way. Patricia Chambers, CCC-SLP, PhD

Speech and Language: Articulation, language, voice, fluency and hearing are all problems that can arise with communication. Problems with communication can be present at birth or can happen later in life due to age, injury, or disease. These problems can be receptive (misunderstanding or not hearing what is said) or expressive (an inability to speak or communicate thoughts clearly). Difficulties with speech and language can also be multifaceted, meaning they involve receptive and expressive problems. Improvement with articulation, pronouncing sounds, and stuttering can happen with the assistance of a speech language pathologist, and hearing aids can help bridge the gap when it comes to receptive problems.

Equal Access: Removing barriers that limit the potential of people with communications disorders is one of the goals of Better Hearing and Speech Month. Just as important as making people aware of the challenges faced by those with hearing loss is providing equal access to information about how essential it is to have healthy communication. Though many people have their cholesterol, heart, and eyes checked regularly, hearing is often not considered as important. In the past, there was a huge misconception, not only among the average person but among medical professionals, that hearing loss was not an essential part of wellness. This myth about hearing loss has been disproven time and again. Hearing loss has been linked with serious cognitive issues like dementia and Alzheimer's. It is now known, 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, protect hearing, and treat hearing loss.

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