Did you know that May is Better Hearing and Speech Month? Every year, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (also known as ASHA) raises awareness around hearing and speech issues with a month-long campaign of education and outreach. Here at Hearing Group we’re always eager to share Better Hearing and Speech Month with our community. Won’t you join us this May to get a deeper understanding of hearing issues?
Communication Across the Lifespan
This year, Better Hearing and Speech Month is designed around the theme of “Communication Across the Lifespan”. ASHA has developed focused material that tackles the challenges of hearing loss particular to different stages in life, from infancy and youth through adulthood. Each week, Better Hearing and Speech Month is releasing new fact sheets, graphics and information to teach people the facts about hearing and speech issues.
Hearing loss can affect people at any age. Many people are born with hearing issues that can be detected in infancy or early childhood. Young adults growing up in a noisy world are now becoming a growing demographic of people with hearing loss. Throughout adulthood, hearing damage accumulates making it more vulnerable to significant hearing loss. It’s important to understand how to protect our hearing and what to do when we notice hearing issues so our hearing can serve us well our whole life.
Hearing Loss Basics
Hearing loss can arise from many different issues within the ear including infections, side effects of certain medications, trauma to the head or neck, obstructions (such as compacted earwax), or permanent damage within the inner ear. Most permanent hearing loss is related to damage to the fragile hearing mechanisms of the inner ear. Sensing sound waves in the air is done by an array of finely calibrated hair cells within the shell-shaped cochlea of the inner ear. These cells pick up sound wave vibrations, translates them into the electrical impulses and transmits them to the brain which interprets them.
While these cells are precise and sensitive in the incredible job they do, they are also very delicate. Unlike most other cells in the body, hair cells are unable to repair themselves when they become disabled. The hair cells in our inner ears also cannot be replaced, meaning a damaged hair cell is effectively out of commission permanently leaving a gap in our ability to hear. Hair cells have a performance range and listening to loud sounds without hearing protection can cause strain and damage to the hair cells. As we go through life, all the permanent hearing injuries we gradually accrue can add up to significant hearing loss.
Recognizing and Treating Hearing Issues
Gradual hearing loss can be hard to recognize and prioritize, but having hearing issues looked at when they arise is an important element of hearing health. Pay attention to the way you hear. Signs of hearing loss include consistent difficulty in comprehending what people say – often voices can be heard but the sound seems muffled or unintelligible, especially high-pitched voices like children’s speech. Turning up the volume or even maximizing the volume on television, computers, radios and stereo systems may be a sign you are having difficulty hearing at lower, more moderate volumes.
Sometimes the signs are subtle. If you are experiencing hearing loss, noisy social events may seem less enjoyable and harder to navigate. You may begin avoiding once enjoyable activities like sporting events, parties and dining out. A loved one may notice differences in your hearing before you think of your hearing as having challenges. If someone close to you suggests you get your hearing checked, take them seriously. The way you hear affects not only yourself, but your relationship to everyone you communicate with.
Visit Us at Hearing Group
Part of having a good understanding of your hearing health is developing healthy listening habits and scheduling regular hearing exams. Hearing exams can detect hearing loss early when it is easiest to treat and can minimize the impact hearing loss has on your life.
Choosing comprehensive hearing healthcare like what we provide at Hearing Group is a great first step towards hearing your best. Our thorough hearing exams map your hearing challenges and help our hearing specialists connect you with personalized solutions. No matter what your age is, hearing health is important to think about. At Hearing Group, we are happy to help you protect your hearing and hear your best.