May is Better Speech and Hearing Month!

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month!

Peter Lucier, HIS

According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, approximately 48 million Americans (20 percent) report some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss is third most common physical condition behind arthritis and heart disease, affecting people of all ages. People ages 60-70 are most affected. According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately 28.8 million adults in the United States could benefit from wearing hearing aids. Sadly, of those age 70 and older who could benefit from wearing hearing aids, fewer than 30 percent have ever used them.  In fact, many people often wait 15 years from the time they know they have hearing loss until they invest in their first hearing aids.

To raise awareness about communication disorders, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), observes Better Speech and Hearing Month annually each May. The NIDCD, ASHA, and many allied organizations educate the public about communication disorders, treatments, and current research that can improve the lives of those with hearing loss or with voice, speech, or language disorders. The theme for 2019 is “Communication Across the Lifespan.” This topic emphasizes the importance of caring for you and your loved one’s hearing through a lifetime of prevention, harm reduction and treatment.


Signs of Hearing Loss

Hearing aids have been proven very effective in treating hearing loss and with new technology are becoming more advanced every year. However, before you can treat hearing loss you must recognize the signs of hearing loss. Some of the signs of hearing loss to watch for include;

  • Difficulty hearing on the telephone
  • Exhaustion or headaches from straining to hear
  • Asking people to repeat what they said
  • Believing people are mumbling or speaking too softly
  • Having trouble deciphering speech in noisy environments
  • Turning the TV up so loud that loved ones comment or complain
  • Difficulty hearing high-pitched voices

Social Signs of Hearing Loss

Often people develop adaptive behaviors to compensate for the hearing loss in social settings.  They might not even realize they are doing it. Those with hearing loss often pretend to hear. For example, a person with hearing loss may smile and nod along, or respond with vague expressions such as ‘that’s interesting’ or ‘uh-huh.’ They often take cues from other people’s reactions in the room, such as laughing along if they notice other people are laughing. Often people resort to body language and lip reading to fill in what auditory information they miss.


Strain on Relationships

Unfortunately, hearing loss not realized and untreated can cause a strain on relationships between, spouses, friends, loved ones and professional relationships. A 2009 British study that surveyed 1,500 people with hearing loss, 44 percent reported that their hearing loss had caused their relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners to suffer. People reported a decrease in quality communication, a reduction in a couple’s ability to enjoy favorite pastimes and a cause of resentment. Ultimately hearing loss can cause social withdrawal, isolation and depression for the person who suffers.  Many studies have linked untreated hearing loss to brain disease and ultimately dementia.


Lower Earning Power

Studies show that individuals with hearing loss who don’t utilize a hearing loss solution are generally paid less. On average, individuals with severe hearing loss received annual household incomes of $14,000 less than their counterparts with the mildest hearing loss. Studies have found while hearing loss impacts most people’s performance at work, the use of hearing solutions such as hearing aids had a positive impact on household income.


Hearing Aids of the Future

Hearing aids have come a long way since the first behind-the-ear models were developed in the 1960s. You might remember these devices looking big, bulky, beige, and very noticeable. They would sit uncomfortably behind the ear and amplify all the sounds around you. Now, in 2019 – hearing aids look more like something out of a sleek sci-fi movie. Advancements in hearing aids include smaller, sleeker designs that are much less noticeable, noise cancelation, wind reduction, moisture resistance, connectivity through Bluetooth to your Smartphone and the ability to recharge.


Hearing Aid Specialists of the Central Coast

Don’t let another year go by wondering if you have a hearing loss. Celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month this May by contacting us at Hearing Aid Specialists of the Central Coast to set up an appointment for a hearing test. Once you know you have a hearing loss, we can help you find the best method of treatment for you. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.