Are you ready? May is National Better Hearing and Speech Month. It's the perfect time for you or your loved one to act. Why the hurry you ask? Because like everything else in this world, if you don't use it; you LOSE it!
Over time, reduced stimulation to your ears and brain can impair the brain's ability to process sound and recognize speech. If you are having difficulty understanding conversations either in quiet or noisy places, you have some degree of hearing loss. Your hearing health care professional will determine what it is caused by. It may need to be corrected with prescribed hearing instruments or it may just be an accumulation of ear wax. It may be a medical condition that will require referral to an ENT doctor. (Ear, Nose, & Throat)
If you can't see properly, you go and get your eyesight evaluated. If your eyesight is impaired then you get glasses, contacts, or surgery; whatever it takes that helps you see and enjoy life better. So, glasses or contacts are "seeing aids". No problem taking that step for most people. Somehow, it became a stigma to get "hearing aids" back in time. Yet, they do the same thing as “seeing aids"... they improve your life by helping your ability to communicate. Many years ago, my patient, Mike, was hesitant to make the jump, he had tried some without success. After thorough testing, I assured him we simply needed the right product for his lifestyle. He reminds me that I said to him... "you wear seeing aids to help you see better.... why won't you wear hearing aids to help you hear better? It's the same outcome. Better communication ability and thus a more enjoyable life, for everyone that you are involved with.
When you can't hear or understand what is going on around you, not only do you miss out on the activities, your mental sharpness and communication skills suffer. The earlier you start to wear hearing instruments the quicker you will notice the benefits. Research today studies the amount of listening effort that the hearing-impaired patient must deal with in quiet and in noisy places. Current technology can filter out background noise by utilizing processors that can classify speech and sounds such as wind, machine noise, and even quiet speech in speech-weighted background noise. Automatic directional microphones in addition to the multi-core processors that run the hearing aids can analyze which direction speech and noise are coming from and adapt appropriately. The higher technology hearing instruments provide the most categories of background noise control. Are you active? Are you a social butterfly? Do you have a clubhouse you enjoy going to? Cards? Bingo? How about the church, choir, or Sunday School? Maybe you are on grandkids duty in the afternoons? Maybe you are still working or volunteering more than you ever worked! Haha! You only have one life... to live it to the fullest you need to be able to communicate with others. Make this the month that you explore your hearing health care needs.