May is a very special month at Arizona Balance & Hearing Aids – it’s officially Better Speech and Hearing Month! Better Speech and Hearing Month was established by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and it is the perfect time to raise awareness around hearing and speech health issues, and to help people access care for their concerns.
This year, the theme of Better Speech and Hearing Month is Communication: The Key to Connection, focusing on the role communication plays in our overall wellbeing. Here at Arizona Balance & Hearing Aids, helping you understand your hearing wellness and offering you expert care each step of the way go hand-in-hand, every day of the year, so we’re thrilled to be part of this month of education and action.
It’s important to understand how serious hearing loss is and why early detection and treatment are optimal. Hearing loss affects over 40 million Americans but the impact hearing impairment has on a person’s overall wellbeing is often misunderstood. Untreated hearing loss doesn’t just make it harder to hear, it is associated with social isolation and depression, anxiety, and its effects can compound into increased risk for heart disease, falling, and dementia.
When we can’t hear correctly, it begins to cut us off from the people, places and activities we care most about. However, avoiding places and situations that are difficult to navigate isn’t the solution, in fact, avoidance feeds into isolation and anxiety. Instead, taking a hearing exam and working with an audiologist is the best course of action. For many, this can be a difficult step. There’s a seven-year gap, on average, between when people first notice hearing issues and when they seek treatment.
Hearing loss is often gradual in nature, and it can be hard to recognize the signs. However, there are some common indicators to watch for. If you recognize these situations in your own life, set up a hearing exam to see if you have any hearing issues that need to be addressed.
Common signs of hearing loss include:
• Having the impression that voices are muffled or unintelligible
• Consistently needing to turn up the volume on television or radio
• Having trouble following conversations with multiple people
• Being unable to distinguish sounds in noisy environments like restaurants or parties
• Withdrawing socially because of hearing issues
• Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
• Needing to have things repeated in order to understand them
Sometimes, especially with hearing, it can be hard to detect how much or how little we are able to perceive. If you notice these signs in a friend, relative or loved one you may be recognizing their hearing impairment before they do. Remember, communication is key, so reach out to them about hearing issues. Be supportive and help them seek care. Much hearing loss is permanent, but treating hearing impairment with hearing aids and listening devices is incredibly effective and enriches a person’s social life and quality of life.
Understanding hearing damage and hearing protection is especially necessary as the everyday world gets noisier. Hearing loss has started to skew to younger and younger demographics showing early signs of hearing impairment. Environmental noise from lawn mowers to subways to hair dryers surround us, and portable devices with earbuds have normalized prolonged exposure to music played at unhealthy levels. Concerts, movies and sporting events have also dangerously pumped up their volume. Even if we don’t face exposure to noise at our workplaces, our leisure time may be even more riddled with hazards to our hearing.
It’s a smart idea to carry earplugs or other hearing protection with you, especially to noisy events. Always be aware of the volume levels you’re using with headphones or earbuds. Smart phone apps like Decibel 10 or TooLoud? can help you track the sound levels you’re being exposed to. If you have concerns about your hearing, err on the side of caution and schedule a hearing exam.
At Arizona Balance & Hearing Aids we’re always ready to help you understand your hearing and find solutions to any issues you may face. If it is time to choose a hearing aid, we are able to offer you the latest models from all major brands and walk you through options that fit your lifestyle and needs. Our professional staff is always happy to help you set up an appointment or exam and our hearing specialists have been helping Arizona for over two decades.
Remember that communication is key to all the connections that inspire us, and we’re here to help you hear your best, all throughout this Better Speech and Hearing Month- and every other month as well!