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May is Better Hearing & Speech Month

Did you know that the month of May is officially Better Hearing & Speech Month? Since 1927, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) organizes initiatives during the month of May to help promote the fields of audiology and speech language pathology. The theme for this year’s campaign is “Connecting People” and promoting hearing health allows us to do just that!

Hearing is a critical sense we use to communicate with those around us. Hearing loss can make this task difficult. There is research that shows untreated hearing loss can be linked to social isolation, loneliness, and depression. These negative outcomes don’t have to happen. Here are 3 steps you can take to be proactive with your hearing health and stay connected with your loved ones:

  1. Recognize Signs of Hearing Loss: Since hearing loss tends to occur gradually in most people, sometimes changes in hearing aren’t noticed right away. Early signs of hearing loss can include turning the volume up on the television or phone, asking people to repeat what they say, or having trouble understanding conversations in noisy environments.
  2. Schedule a Hearing Evaluation: A hearing test with an audiologist can help determine if you have hearing loss and help you find out what you have been missing. Even if you feel your hearing problems are minimal, it is helpful to have a hearing evaluation as a baseline to compare if more significant changes happen in the future.
  3. Treat Your Hearing Loss: Once a comprehensive hearing test is done, treatment options can be discussed if hearing loss is present. This may include a recommendation for hearing aids. Some types of hearing loss may need to be addressed with medical procedures or surgical devices such as cochlear implants.

Join us as we celebrate Better Hearing & Speech Month! Don’t live another day in silence and say goodbye to isolation. Stay connected with the people in your life. Hearing well is an important step in living well, so call our office at 904-399-0350 to schedule an evaluation.

The Value of an Audiologist

An audiologist is a health care professional who provides patient-centered care in order to identify, diagnose and treat hearing loss and balance disorders using evidence-based practice. An audiologist aims to provide personalized services to minimize the negative impact of hearing loss and ultimately lead to improved quality of life. 

Audiologists are required to hold a doctorate degree in audiology (Au.D.). They must also pass board examinations to receive licensing and accreditation. In addition, audiologists are required to earn annual continuing education credits in order to remain knowledgeable of the most current research-based practice and rehabilitation methods.

A hearing aid is often used to manage hearing loss by analyzing and amplifying sound within an environment. If hearing aids are recommended based on a comprehensive hearing evaluation the audiologist uses the test results combined with information about the patient’s lifestyle and communication needs to determine the most appropriate style and power level of hearing aid. Additionally, the audiologist provides personalized counseling to help educate the patient and establish realistic expectations regarding their potential benefit from hearing aids. Information is also provided regarding communication and self-advocacy strategies in order to give the patient control over their hearing experience and help maximize hearing aid benefit. 

One of the most important components of the hearing aid process is the follow up care. Best practice methods include programming hearing aid settings based on verification measures (objective data) and patient feedback regarding their experience (subjective data). A hearing aid is an investment in your health and wellness and when thinking about purchasing hearing aid it is important to find out the types of services and the level of care that you will receive with your purchase. Many audiologists include programming adjustments, verification tests and counseling in the cost of the hearing aids. This helps to ensure the patient receives high quality of care tailored to their specific needs.

What to Expect When You are New to Hearing Aids

1. During an appointment with your audiologist, expect a thorough assessment to determine the severity of your hearing loss and a detailed discussion about your lifestyle, hearing priorities, and budget to help determine what hearing aids are best for you.

2. Expect an adjustment period when you first begin to wear hearing aids. Hearing loss typically occurs over time, and it can take time for your brain to become accustomed to all the sounds you are now hearing again. The world is a very noisy place and you may notice sounds you didn’t realize you were missing such as your footsteps when walking, running water from the faucet & the quiet hum of the refrigerator. After wearing the hearing aids for a week or two, all of those ambient sounds will become less prominent to you. The more you wear hearing aids, the quicker you will adjust!

3. Expect them to “whistle” as you put them in your ears. Once they are in your ears, the whistling should stop.

4. Expect to take care of your hearing aids! The better care that is taken of them, the longer they will last. It is as simple as routine nightly cleaning. Wiping them down with a tissue every night will go a long way!

5. Expect a new technology to be developed every couple of years. You can speak with your audiologist to determine if new technology would be beneficial for you. Just as any other electronic device, they do not last forever and will eventually wear out.

Purchasing hearing aids is a big adjustment to your life but with these few pointers to get you started, you are on your way to better hearing!

Sporting events and Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

With August comes the start of a new school year, and also the beginning of football season. While many people enjoy the atmosphere of game day, they don’t always recognize that sounds could be loud enough to damage their hearing. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as many as 40 million U.S. adults may have noise-induced hearing loss. The good news is that noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented. The chart below shows the average decibel levels for many common sounds.

Source: The American Academy of Audiology

As the chart shows, sporting events such as football games can reach levels of 110 decibels or more! Exposure to this level of noise over several hours can be damaging to your hearing. The Guinness world record for the loudest NFL crowd noise was set by the Kansas City Chiefs fans in 2014. The roar of the crowd was measured at an ear-shattering 142.2 decibels!

Even smaller scale sporting events can have noises loud enough to damage hearing. It’s a good idea to bring a pair of earplugs with you, just in case sounds reach loud levels. If you are concerned you may have noise-induced hearing loss, you should schedule a hearing evaluation with an audiologist to learn more about your hearing. We only get one pair of ears, so it is important to protect your hearing as much as possible.