Each May, the American-Speech-Language Hearing Association raises awareness about hearing and communication by celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month. The theme for this year is, “Communication: The Key to Connection.”
Our ability to communicate allows us to fully experience our world and connect with others who are important to us. However, for many people, communication is not always easy due to hearing and speech conditions. In fact, more than 48 million Americans experience hearing loss, and 1 in 10 Americans live with some type of communication disorder.
Here are six easy things you can do this month to raise awareness about hearing and speech conditions and ensure you and your family members are communicating at your very best!
1. Schedule a hearing exam: It’s important to get your hearing checked regularly—just like you would get your teeth cleaned or eyes examined. 16% of primary care physicians do not routinely screen for hearing loss. If you haven’t had a screening in more than a year, it’s time to schedule an appointment.
2. Educate yourself: There is a lot to learn about hearing loss and communication disorders, and one of the first steps to spreading awareness is to educate yourself! There are plenty of resources online that can get you started. Check out EarQ.com and ASHA.org to learn more!
3. Get hearing protection: Do you ever go to concerts, watch fireworks, or use power tools? Then you should be using hearing protection! It’s important to remember that exposure to noise more than 85 decibels can cause hearing damage—that’s about the decibel level of the average restaurant.
4. Download a decibel app on your phone: This one is quick and easy! A decibel app can give you an idea of how loud your environment is, so you can get out your hearing protection or move to a quieter space to protect your hearing. There are a number of different decibel apps out there, find the best one for you.
5. Find another use for your cotton swabs: Despite what you might think, using cotton swabs can actually cause damage to your ears (such as a punctured eardrum…ouch!) Often times, they actually push earwax further into your ears, leading to wax impaction. So find another use for cotton swabs. You can use them to remove makeup, clean electronics, or build a small fort for your pet hamster-anything but sticking them in your ears!
6. Spread the word: You’ve learned so much already—pass it on! Talk to your friends and family members about Better Hearing and Speech Month, and even complete some of the items on this list with them. You’ll both be happy you did!
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