What is Better Speech and Hearing Month?
Better Speech and Hearing Month (BSHM) takes place every May, as an effort to raise awareness about communication disorders. BSHM is organized by the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) to share resources and encourage Americans to take the steps toward better hearing health.
To celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month, Dr. Kristi Mendoza of Optimum Audiology has planned a campaign to drop in and introduce herself to 30 local area doctors in Victorville, CA. Dr. Mendoza plans to raise awareness on hearing loss by disseminating information from doctors to their patients on the importance of hearing health.
Why Hearing Health Matters
Hearing loss is the third most common medical condition in the United States, following heart disease and diabetes. There are 48 million Americans who currently experience some degree of hearing loss, regardless of age. However, in older Americans, the rates of hearing loss increase. One in three Americans between age 65 and 74, and 50% of Americans age 75 and older, experience some degree of hearing loss.
The importance of treating hearing loss early
It is important to treat hearing loss as soon as it appears. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to many other medical issues. Studies from Johns Hopkins University have found that people with untreated hearing loss have an increased risk of developing dementia. Hearing happens in the brain, where sound waves are processed and registered as things we recognize. With untreated hearing loss, these sound signals become muddled and the brain has to exert more effort to hear, creating a heavier cognitive load.
People with untreated hearing loss have also experienced higher rates of falls and hospitalizations and have an increased risk of developing depression, stress, and anxiety. Hearing loss interferes with our ability to communicate; when people begin to experience the first signs of hearing loss, they may find themselves withdrawing from their friends and loved ones to avoid the difficulty of speech recognition. This isolation also contributes to instances of depression and anxiety.
Teaching kids safe listening habits
This May 2016, ASHA’s theme for BSHM is “Communication Takes Care.” The focus is for parents to “teach and model safe listening to personal technology devices to prevent hearing loss in kids.” In recent years, the ubiquity of personal electronic devices has found many young people connected to their smartphones and tablets with earbuds and headphones. According to ASHA, “Nationwide, surveyed audiologist rank repeated misuse of personal technology at loud volumes that can potentially damage children’s hearing as their top tech-related concern. This is supported by some disturbing data showing sharp increases in hearing loss among adolescents, as well as the World Health Organization labeling unsafe listening devices an international health threat.”
Hearing is an important part of our ability to communicate, and it is crucial in the speech/language development in children. ASHA notes that hearing loss can also affect “academic and vocational success” and “social skills and mental health.” Because hearing is an invisible sense and its signs are subtle and gradual, how do we identify when hearing loss has occurred?
Steps to Better Hearing
Better hearing begins with a consultation with Dr. Mendoza, followed by a series of comprehensive hearing exams. As a licensed audiologist, Dr. Mendoza provides a high quality of care for people of all ages. With the understanding that hearing is a personal experience, Dr. Mendoza works closely with her clients to ensure specialized attention.
This May, in an effort to improve hearing health – and overall health as a result – schedule an appointment with Dr. Kristi Mendoza of Optimum Audiology. If you are a medical doctor and are interested in discussing hearing health with Dr. Mendoza, please contact Optimum Audiology.