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National Speech-Language-Hearing Month

Annual eye exams are normal, but when is the last time you received a professional opinion on your ears, if ever? Hearing makes it possible for us to connect, communicate, and enjoy the sounds of laughter, music, and conversation. However, it's important to note that not everyone communicates the same way, for an example, some individuals may use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate. May is National Speech-Language-Hearing Month and is a reminder of the importance of human communication and what we can all do to prevent and address communication disorders.¹  


The National Association for Hearing and Speech Action (NAHSA) announced that starting in 2024, May will be recognized as National Speech-Language-Hearing Month instead of Better Hearing and Speech Month, which NAHSA—the consumer affiliate of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)—initiated in 1972.² Each May, people come together to observe an annual event that aims to raise awareness about hearing and speech problems. It's a great opportunity to encourage individuals to think about their own hearing and to get their hearing checked, which is an important step in maintaining good auditory health. Below are some common symptoms that your hearing is declining:

 

Common Symptoms of Hearing Decline

  • Phone calls are hard to understand. While turning up the volume on your smartphone or landline may help you hear better, it can also prevent you from noticing a problem. You may want to schedule a hearing evaluation.³

  • Asking people to repeat what they said. If “what?” is becoming the most commonly used word in your vocabulary, it could mean you aren’t getting the sound signals you need to process speech correctly. You may have hearing loss.³

  • You misunderstand what people say. These miscommunications often stem from the beginnings of high-frequency hearing loss that affect our ability to discern the sounds of speech.³

  • You’re tired from straining to hear conversations. If a typical day of chatting with coworkers, friends and family leaves you with a headache or fatigue, you may have a hearing loss.³

 

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important to get a hearing test to determine the cause and find appropriate treatment options.

 

The risk of hearing loss significantly rises with age, with prevalence increasing from 13% among adults aged 40 to 49, to 29% in those aged 50 to 59, 45% in the 60 to 69 age group, 68% in individuals aged 70 to 79, and 90% among those aged 80 and older.⁴ Regular hearing tests can help identify any early signs of hearing loss and allow for early intervention and management. Furthermore, hearing loss can be a result of a range of factors such as genetics, noise exposure, and medical conditions. Therefore, receiving regular hearing tests can help identify potential risk factors and provide appropriate recommendations for maintaining good hearing health. Review the list below for common hearing loss prevention tips:

 

Hearing Loss Prevention Tips

Preventing hearing loss is essential for maintaining good hearing health. To achieve this, it's important to follow these tips:


  • Understand that noise-induced hearing loss can lead to communication difficulties, learning difficulties, pain or ringing in the ears (tinnitus), distorted or muffled hearing, and an inability to hear some environmental sounds and warning signals.

  • Identify sources of loud sounds (such as gas-powered lawnmowers, snowmobiles, power tools, gunfire, or music) that can contribute to hearing loss and try to reduce exposure.

  • Adopt behaviors to protect their hearing:

-Avoid or limit exposure to excessively loud sounds.

-Turn down the volume of music systems.

-Move away from the source of loud sounds when possible.

  • Seek hearing evaluation by a licensed audiologist or other qualified professional, especially if there is concern about potential hearing loss.


If you are experiencing hearing loss or know someone that has hearing loss, know that there are options to consider, such as:

 

  1. Removing earwax. Earwax blockage is a cause of hearing loss that can be fixed. A health care provider might remove earwax using suction or a small tool with a loop on the end.

  2. Hearing Aids. If hearing loss is from damage to the inner ear, a hearing aid can be helpful.

  3. Cochlear Implants. When a regular hearing aid isn't likely to help much, a cochlear implant might be an option. A cochlear implant isn't like a hearing aid that makes sound stronger and directs it into the ear canal. Instead, a cochlear implant goes around the parts of the inner ear that don't work to spur the hearing nerve.

  4. Surgery. Some types of hearing loss can be treated with surgery. For repeated infections that cause fluid in the ear, a care provider might put in small tubes that help ears drain.

  5. Learning American Sign Language. American Sign Language (ASL) can be a valuable tool for communication and connection. ASL allows for visual and gestural communication, making it possible to engage, listen, and laugh with others despite any hearing limitations. Check out this site to learn more about ASL and helpful resources. https://www.nad.org/resources/american-sign-language/learning-american-sign-language/

 

Understanding the early symptoms of hearing decline is crucial for taking timely action. Additionally, adopting healthy habits like wearing ear protection while exposed to loud noises, taking breaks from prolonged noise exposure, and getting regular hearing screenings can help prevent hearing loss. This blog is a reminder for you to take care of your hearing health, and National Speech-Language-Hearing Month is a great time to start.

 

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