The month of May is observed as Better Hearing and Speech Month. During this time, the local community promotes awareness of hearing loss prevention and current practices for ultimate hearing and speech.
"Hearing is one of our most vital senses. It enables you to process everyday sounds to communicate," says Alisa Calhoun, BC-HIS from Hearing Care Professionals in Greencastle. "In addition, it directly affects the quality of our lives."
As hearing diminishes, everyday sounds once taken for granted become less and less apparent until they can no longer be detected at all. When hearing loss goes unrecognized or untreated, more serious consequences can occur not only to the individual, but to their communities as well.
Consider a potential automobile accident caused by a driver failing to hear warning signals like sirens, screams or tires screeching. This puts both the hearing impaired driver and the public at risk. There are also serious concerns when an individual cannot hear telephones, doorbells, security alarms or smoke detectors.
Currently in the United States, an estimated 28 million people suffer from varying degrees of hearing impairment. Of that total, approximately 5 million wear hearing instruments.
As America's population ages, hearing loss has become increasingly prevalent. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, hearing impairment is the third most common problem affecting the Baby Boom generation.
For most people, hearing begins to weaken at 30 years of age. Hearing deterioration can be caused from a number of reasons including aging, high cholesterol, diet, medications, repeated environmental situations such as loud concerts, amplified music or operating loud equipment without proper hearing protection.
The good news is that most hearing losses can be effectively treated with digital amplification. The key for effective treatment and rehabilitation is to identify a hearing loss in the early stages. The best way to identify early signs of hearing loss is to have your hearing checked regularly by a professional. This is true for all individuals, but especially for those aged 50 and older. Because the onset of hearing loss tends to be gradual, The Elite Hearing Network, a leader in the hearing care industry, has developed a series of questions to help identify possible hearing problems:
Do you tend to favor one ear over the other? Have you been told to turn down the television because it is too loud for others? Do you have difficulty following conversations in large groups or noisy environments? Do you often ask others to repeat themselves, especially young children and women? Do you have trouble hearing at a distance, such as in church or at a movie theater? Have family or friends commented on your inability to hear?
"If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, it may indicate the need for a complete hearing evaluation," Calhoun said. "Untreated hearing loss in contemporary society can be a risky choice, but fortunately, with today's advanced digital technology, the majority of hearing losses are treatable."
During May, Hearing Care Professionals is offering free hearing screenings in their Greencastle office and on May 13 at Acute Medical Care from 9 a.m. to noon. They will also be giving away literature about noise exposure and ear protection devices.
Please call 655-1104 to set up a free test with Alisa Calhoun, who is Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences. Acute Hearing is located at 204 N. Vine St. in Greencastle.