Better Speech And Hearing Month

Did you know that May is Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM)? This month-long event, established in 1927 by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), aims to raise awareness about hearing and speech issues. It’s a great opportunity for everyone to think about their own hearing health and get their hearing checked. Let’s delve into why early identification and intervention are crucial when it comes to hearing loss.

The Importance of Early Detection

Many individuals live with undiagnosed hearing loss, unaware that they are missing out on certain sounds and words. To address this issue, the first step is to have your hearing checked. Early detection helps in identifying potential hearing problems and taking necessary actions.

According to the World Health Organization’s first World Report on Hearing:

  • Noise is now recognized as a significant public health concern and a top environmental risk worldwide.
  • More than 50% of individuals aged 12-35 listen to music at volumes that can damage their hearing.
  • A general rule of thumb is to keep the volume below 60% to stay safe.
  • Instead of increasing the volume, consider using noise-canceling earphones or headphones when using personal audio devices in loud environments.
  • Listening to personal audio devices should not exceed 80 dB (adults) or 75 dB (children or sensitive users) for more than 40 hours per week.
  • Excessive use of portable audio devices can expose listeners to sound levels that can be equivalent to those experienced by industrial workers in 15 minutes.

The Vulnerability of our Hearing

Did you know that the average person is born with approximately 16,000 hair cells in their inner ear? These hair cells allow your brain to detect sounds. Unfortunately, by the time you notice hearing loss, many of these delicate cells may have already been damaged or destroyed. It is possible to lose 30% to 50% of hair cells before changes in your hearing can be detected by a hearing test. Once these inner ear cells are damaged, they cannot regenerate.

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In addition to harming hair cells, loud noises can also damage the auditory nerve responsible for transmitting sound information to your brain. Early damage may not be immediately evident during a hearing test. While there is no known treatment to restore normal hearing, the good news is that hearing loss caused by loud sounds can be prevented.

Protecting Your Hearing

People often subject themselves to loud noises voluntarily, whether through headphones, concerts, nightclubs, sporting events, or fitness classes. Here are some tips to help protect your hearing:

  • When shooting a firearm, it is essential to learn about safe firearm use, including the use of hearing protection.
  • Is the noise too loud? If you need to raise your voice to be heard, then it’s a sign that the noise is too loud. Ensure you are using appropriate hearing protection, such as earplugs or noise-canceling earmuffs.
  • Avoid prolonged headphone use. Lower the volume and take regular breaks from exposure to loud noise.

Remember, prevention is key to maintaining good hearing health. If you already have hearing loss or are experiencing discomfort or ringing in your ears, take proactive steps to prevent further deterioration. Start by getting your hearing checked regularly.

Let’s make Better Speech and Hearing Month the beginning of a lifelong commitment to protecting our hearing!

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