Each year in May, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) celebrates Better Hearing and Speech Month, a month dedicated to increasing awareness around issues concerning hearing and speech.
What does “better” mean when it comes to hearing?
For those who don’t have hearing issues, hearing happens passively. We hear whether we want to or not. But if you have hearing loss, hearing becomes an activity that requires participation, energy, concentration and focus.
Almost all of my hearing aid patients ask me “what’s new” in the world of hearing aids when they come in for their check ups.
Like all technology, there is almost always something new! I generally tell my patients that each hearing aid manufacturer will roll out a new product 1-2 times a year. Does this make their current product obsolete? No. But, for those who might be in the market for new hearing aids, or, those who always seek the latest products, asking about the new developments is wise.
Finally! Spring has arrived, and with it, the promise of warmer temperatures, longer days, and the renewal of all that winter has kept hidden for much too long. It is refreshing to see the daffodils coming to life again, the buds on the lilacs getting bigger each day, and to hear the peepers chirping at dusk each evening.
But…are you missing the sound of those peepers? Have you bluffed your way through a story your friend shared in that noisy restaurant last week, smiling and nodding, but not really able to follow the words clearly? Have you perhaps been hiding a hearing problem?
Last year I wrote about resolutions and perhaps choosing better hearing as one of yours! This year, I’m writing about some lower tech interventions for hearing loss that might be useful for any person with hearing concerns.
I've been at HSL 18 years and in that time, technology has grown in leaps and bounds! Think back....How many cell phones have you had in the past few years? How have they changed since the first phone you owned? Hearing aids have changed in similar ways.
In the past several years, hearing aid technology has gone through a radical transformation. Today’s hearing aids are state-of-the-art, highly effective, sleek, and sophisticated wearable electronics that can help people stay actively engaged on the job and in life. They are digital, wireless, can connect directly to smartphones and other electronic devices, and can be as discreet or as visible as the user likes. Today’s hearing aids are all about active lifestyles—they’re ageless.
I often hear my patients say, “If only people spoke more clearly, I wouldn’t have as much trouble hearing.” Although damage to the hair cells of the inner ear does cause some inherent distortion in the received speech signal, it is true that clear spoken speech CAN make listening easier for hearing impaired people. Research suggests that in less than an hour, partners of people with a hearing loss can improve their ability to be understood by 40% or more, even in noisy backgrounds. So, what IS “clear speech”?
• Speaking slightly slower, with more precise pronunciation
Many studies indicate that people with untreated hearing loss may be at an increased risk of depression. Further, when these people use hearing aids, they experience significant improvements in quality of life and a decrease in depressive symptoms. A study published in the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics examined the effects of hearing aids on cognitive function and depressive signs in people 65 and older. Researchers found that after three months of using a hearing aid, all patients showed significant improvement in their psychosocial and cognitive conditions.
Hearing loss often occurs with age. However, research has revealed that hearing loss can actually be accelerated in patients with diabetes, especially if blood-glucose levels are not being controlled with medication and diet.
Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone required to convert sugar, starches and other foods into energy needed for daily life. People with diabetes have too much glucose, a form of sugar, in their blood. More than half of the 16 million Americans living with diabetes are over the age of 60.
Okay, we KNOW it should be lamb, but very often, a person with hearing impairment may hear a similar word, but one that very much changes the meaning of the phrase. In the above example, familiarity with the phrase would help. But, what about this exchange?
“Hey, nice watch. What kind is it?”
“Oh, it’s 12:30.”
The most common complaint I hear from my patients is “I hear fine, I just don’t get the words.” This could very likely be because the ear is hearing SOME of the sounds within words normally, but is not picking up some of the softer sounding consonants….the “s”, the “f”, the “sh”, the “t”, for example. These consonants are the elements of words that give words MEANING!
Here it is: February. A short month in terms of days, but a long month for many, as it is usually cold and falls between the excitement of the holidays and the anticipation of spring.
February also claims Valentine’s Day and American Heart Health Month. Speaking of hearts, did you know that there is a link between heart health and hearing health? The inner ear is extremely sensitive to blood flow. Studies have shown that a healthy cardiovascular system—a person’s heart, arteries, and veins, has a positive effect on hearing. Conversely, inadequate blood flow and trauma to the blood vessels of the inner ear can contribute to hearing loss.