May is Better Hearing and Speech Month

This is a good time to highlight how critical it is to identify and act on hearing issues in children as early as possible. Hearing is critical for children to develop listening and spoken communication, which are key to establishing language and literacy.

What You Need to Know

  • According to the National Institutes of Health, about two to three of every 1,000 newborns in the U.S. have some level of hearing loss in one or both ears.
  • Standard of care follows the “1-3-6” rule: Hearing should be screened by 1 month old, hearing loss should be diagnosed with an auditory brainstem response test by 3 months old, and infants with hearing loss should be fitted with hearing aids and enrolled in early intervention programs by 6 months old.
  • Research shows that children are better equipped to build language and communication strategies that allow them to reach their full potential when hearing loss is identified and intervention services are implemented as early as possible. (Sharma & Nash, 2009; Cole &Flexer, 2011; Ganek, et al., 2012)
  • The individuals with Disabilities Education Act allows children with hearing loss to receive free, age-appropriate intervention programs from birth to age 21.

For Older Adults – Approximately 36 million Americans suffer from hearing loss.

  • More than half of the people with hearing loss are younger than age 65.
  • Untreated hearing loss can affect your ability to understand speech and can negatively impact your social an well-being—hearing impairment can decrease your quality of life!.
  • Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States.

Signs you may have a hearing loss:

  • Difficulty hearing people talk in noisy environments such as a restaurant, shopping mall, in a car, or at themovie theater.
  • People seem to “mumble” all the time.
  • Family, friends, or colleagues often have to repeat themselves when speaking with you.
  • You have trouble hearing people when they are not facing you or are in another room.
  • You have trouble following conversations.
  • You have ringing, buzzing, or hissing sounds in your ears.

What causes hearing loss?.

  • Exposure to excessive loud noise.
  • Ear infections, trauma, or ear disease.
  • Damage to the inner ear and ear drum from contact with a foreign object (cotton swabs, bobby pins, etc.).
  • Illness or certain medications.
  • Deteriorating hearing due to the normal aging process.

How to protect your hearing:

  • Wear hearing protection when around sounds louder than 85 dB for a long period of time. There are different types of hearing protection such as foam earplugs, earmuffs and custom hearing protection devices.
  • Contact your local audiologist for custom hearing protection devices.
  • Turn down the volume when listening to the radio, theTV, MP3 player, or anything through ear buds andheadphones.
  • Walk away from noise
  • And,other than hearing protection, do not put anything in your ear.