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Every year for more than 90 years, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has designated the month of May as Better Hearing and Speech Month! The Association includes audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and researchers, who strive to bring better communication to everyone. During the month of May, they raise awareness about communication disorders, and encourage people with hearing loss to get a hearing test. This year, they’re exploring the theme of Communication at Work.
Hearing Loss at Work
Did you know that hearing loss affects nearly 50 million Americans of all ages? Hearing loss affects millions of Americans in the workforce, and it’s not only seniors who struggle to hear. Hearing loss makes it hard to communicate with family, friends, and coworkers. At work, hearing loss can make it hard to understand instructions, participate in meetings, or do your best work.
Hearing loss in the workplace can be embarrassing, and you may mishear what someone has said, or answer inappropriately. Your hearing loss could also be an annoyance to coworkers, and they may get tired of repeating themselves as you struggle to hear what’s been said.
Hearing Loss and Health Problems
Not only does hearing loss lead to difficulties at work, it’s also linked to a number of health problems. Hearing loss affects both your physical and mental health in profound ways, and untreated hearing loss can lead to:
- Feelings of loneliness
- High levels of stress and anxiety
- Social isolation
- Balance issues
- Greater chance of an accident
- Rapid cognitive decline
- Increased fatigue
- Higher rates of dementia
- Higher risk of diabetes or heart disease
If left untreated, hearing loss can affect your physical and mental health and wellbeing. These problems can become severe, and impact all areas of your life. Untreated hearing loss isn’t just a nuisance, it has some real and long-lasting health consequences.
Facing the Stigma of Hearing Loss
Despite all these negative health outcomes, many people put off treating their hearing loss for 5 to 7 years! During Better Hearing and Speech month, think about the blockers in your life that are preventing you from seeking treatment. Many people list the stigma around hearing loss as a main reason they don’t treat hearing loss sooner.
It’s a common belief that only seniors have hearing loss, and people are worried that wearing hearing aids will make them seem older than they are. Modern hearing technology is extremely sophisticated, and these small devices will provide clear hearing without drawing any attention to your hearing loss. You may not want to wear something in your ears, but take a moment to look around. People of all ages are wearing headphones, earbuds, and Bluetooth headsets in their ears. Wearing sleek devices in your ears won’t make you stand out, and the only thing people will notice is how well you’re able to hear.
What to Expect at a Hearing Test
Another reason people avoid treating their hearing loss is uncertainty around hearing tests. A hearing test is completely non-invasive, and takes less than an hour. We’ll start by asking you a few questions about your hearing health and lifestyle. Then, we’ll measure your hearing abilities by playing a series of sounds. All you need to do is indicate if you’ve heard a sound. Finally, we’ll show you the results on an audiogram, and discuss the best treatment options for your unique hearing loss.
Talking About Hearing Loss
Do you know anyone with hearing loss? Approximately 14% of the population has hearing loss, so there’s a good chance you know at least a few people with hearing loss. The problem is that most people don’t want to talk about hearing loss due to the stigma around hearing loss. You can participate in Better Hearing and Speech month by talking about hearing loss! Be open about your own struggles with hearing loss, or share stories of people you know who have treated their hearing loss. Start conversations about communication disorders, and combat the stigma of hearing loss. These conversations could inspire your family and friends to look after their hearing health, and communicate easily at home and at work.