May has been Better Hearing & Speech Month for more than 75 years, driving awareness in order to provide an avenue to discuss different hearing and communication impairments along with the ongoing research into treatments for them.
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According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), there are about 37 million Americans currently living with communication disorders. In addition, there are another 7.5 million who have trouble using their voices. The NIDCD also states that two to three of every thousand babies born in the US have some degree of hearing loss. These disorders can affect their physical and emotional health as well as their social lives, education, and career options.
The Importance of Raising Awareness
About 15 percent of the American population reports hearing loss to some degree, according to the NIDCD. Hearing loss can lead to an individual feeling isolated from family, friends and even their community. The use of hearing aids could greatly improve their quality of life, yet only about a quarter of those who need them use them. Raising awareness can help people to evaluate their own hearing and to get help when needed.
The hearing loss faced by most adults in the US may result from exposure to loud noises that occurs over time. For example, the use of earbuds or headphones at high volumes for extended periods can result in impaired hearing. Noisy environments can also cause hearing loss. Awareness of these dangers can encourage people to take steps to protect their hearing.
Steps for Protecting Hearing
Better Hearing and Speech Month is also a good time to promote hearing protection. In order to maintain hearing, everyone should be encouraged to:
- Wear Protective Equipment
If you know that you are going to be in a noisy environment, keep earplugs or earmuffs with you.
- Minimize Noise Exposure
Do everything in your power to reduce your exposure to noisy environments.
- Have Hearing Evaluated
Too many people procrastinate when it comes to having their hearing tested. A hearing evaluation from a certified audiologist can get your hearing loss diagnosed and treated quickly.