Building Connections May is Better Hearing and Speech Month(7)

Building Connections | May is Better Hearing and Speech Month!

In Hearing Health, Hearing Loss by Kim Greive

Kim Greive

Every May is Better Hearing and Speech Month! A campaign centering communication disorders and solutions, this annual initiative is organized by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). 

This year’s theme is Building Connections which emphasizes learning and connecting with resources that can transform your health. A major focus of Better Hearing and Speech Month is raising awareness about hearing loss, one of the most common medical issues people experience today. Hearing loss impacts an estimated 48 million people and is a permanent condition that reduces a person’s capacity to hear and process sound. Prioritizing your hearing health can significantly reduce your risk of developing hearing loss and this month is a great time to do so!

New Research: Inaction on Hearing Loss

A new poll, published this month, shows how common it is for hearing loss to remain unaddressed. Commissioned by ASHA, this poll consisted of a nationally representative sample of nearly 2,500 adults (ages 18 and older). Researchers found that: 

  • Only 2 in 10 adults have had a hearing test in the past 5 years, compared with roughly 6 in 10 who have had their vision tested.
  • More than half (51%) of all adults reported having hearing problems, but only 11% of those respondents have sought treatment.
  • 78% of those with hearing problems have had these difficulties for 1 or more years—and 35% have had trouble for 5 or more years.

These key findings reveal how pervasive inaction is when it comes to hearing loss. Though people are experiencing challenges with their hearing, few people actually take the steps to seek treatment. People often wait until the impairment is severe and disruptive enough to address it. 

This delaying of treatment actually worsens impairment and can contribute to the development of various other medical conditions including cognitive decline, depression, and accidental injuries. Discussing these results, A. Lynn Williams, ASHA President, stated: “this inaction on hearing health is especially unfortunate because there are effective treatment options that can enable adults with hearing loss to live fuller and more satisfying lives.” 

Importance of Addressing Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be managed effectively. Early intervention can prevent impairment from worsening and helps the transition into better hearing health. It is incredibly important to not delay treatment because untreated hearing loss can impact your health and daily life in major ways including: 

  • strained communication: common hearing loss symptoms include tinnitus (a buzzing or ringing noise in the ears), sounds are muffled, needing others to speak loudly or repeat themselves, difficulty following entire conversations, pretending to hear etc. These symptoms make it challenging to participate in conversations and communicate easily. This can lead to fatigue, stress, and discomfort. 
  • social withdrawal: strained communication makes conversations difficult to engage in which can lead to people navigating untreated hearing loss to avoid conversations altogether. This results in withdrawing from social life and spending less time with family and friends which can create tension and distance in relationships; impacting mental health and wellness.
  • health risks: social withdrawal contributes to loneliness, isolation, and depression. In fact, a 2015 study showed that depression was more than twice as likely among people who had hearing loss. Additionally, untreated hearing loss increases the risk of developing cognitive decline and experiencing accidental injuries. These health concerns are deeply impactful, affecting quality of life and ability to manage personal and professional responsibilities. 

Treating hearing loss alleviates symptoms and can prevent further harm to overall health. Treatment reduces the risk of developing additional medical conditions that are commonly associated with hearing loss while strengthening hearing and cognitive capacity. 

Seeking Treatment

There is no better time to prioritize your hearing health than Better Hearing and Speech Month! The first step is simple: contact us to schedule an appointment for a hearing test. Hearing tests involve a noninvasive and painless process that measure your hearing capacity in both ears. This identifies any impairment, the degree, and specific type of hearing loss you could be experiencing. Once your hearing needs are established, we are able to assess the most effective treatment options to meet those needs. The most common treatment is hearing aids provide significant support, maximizing hearing and improving communication. Contact us today to learn more!