What is Better Hearing and Speech Month?
May is Better Hearing and Speech Month. It started in 1927 by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). The primary purpose of Better Hearing and Speech Month is to raise the awareness about speech and hearing problems and to educate people and inspire them to analyze their own speech and hearing.
Communication disorders and hearing loss are treatable but are usually overlooked. Not noticing symptoms and signs of hearing loss or speech impairment reduces* the chance of proper treatment. Therefore, BHSM is the perfect opportunity to get informed about hearing loss and other communication disorders, find out their symptoms and how to recognize them. It is especially advised to parents to look for the symptoms in their children. The sooner you notice them, the better treatment they can receive.
What are Causes And Symptoms of Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States. It refers to partial or complete inability to hear. If hearing loss symptoms appear in children, it may affect their language development and speech ability.
Causes of hearing loss are:
- Age – Is the most common cause of hearing loss. Even though researchers don’t completely understand why advanced age is connected to hearing loss, the fact is that one in three people aged between 65 and 74 has a certain level of hearing loss. On the other hand, one in two people above age of 75 experiences hearing loss.
- Medications – There are over 200 different types of medications which can cause hearing loss. These medications include chemotherapy drugs, antibiotics, aspirin, some drugs for erectile dysfunction, drugs that treat* malaria.
- Noise – Can cause hearing loss if the person is subjected to loud and continuous noise. It usually affects people who work in very loud workplaces (carpenters, plumbers, military, transportation, agriculture, and manufacturing).
- Illnesses – Certain illnesses can cause hearing loss. For example, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. These diseases interrupt ears’ blood supply and hence the inability to hear properly. Also, there is Otosclerosis – it is a bone disease of the middle ear. Meniere’s disease affects the inner ear. Both of these conditions can cause hearing loss.
- Sudden Hearing Loss – Develops usually over several hours and days. It results in the fast loss of 30 decibels of hearing ability. It usually affects one ear.
- Trauma –It’s usually trauma which results in skull fracture or punctured eardrum.
- Infection or ear wax.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss Include:
- Inability to understand phone conversations
- Inability to follow conversation of larger group of people
- Perception that other people are not talking loud enough
- Misunderstanding what people say
- Asking people to repeat what they said
- Tinnitus (ringing, hissing sounds in ear)
How to Recognize Speech and Language Disorders?
The symptoms of speech and language impairments vary and they depend on the age of the person.
Signs of Language and Voice Disorder in Children:
- Child doesn’t smile or interact with others
- Child between 4 and 7 months does not babble
- Child between 7 and 12 months makes only a few sounds or gestures
- Child between 7 months and 2 years does not understand what people say
- Child between 12 and 18 months says only a few words
- Child between 18 months and 2 years unable to understand some words
- Child between 1.5 and 3 years can’t form a sentence
- Child between 2 and 3 years doesn’t interact with other children
- Child between 2.5 and 3 years has problem with early writing skills
- Uses a breathy voice
- Uses a nasal-sounding voice.
Signs of Speech and Language Disorders in Adults:
- Struggles to pronounce certain words
- Repeats words or parts of words
- Speaks in short phrases
- Pronounces words in incorrect order
- Struggles to understand and use certain words
- Unable to imitate speech sounds
- Makes inconsistent errors
- Slow rate of speech
- Fast rate of speech
- Slurred speech.
What Causes Speech and Language Impairment?
Speech and language disorders may be caused by:
- Hearing loss
- Brain injury
- Neurological disorders
- Intellectual disabilities
- Physical impairments (cleft palate or lip)
- Drug abuse.
Usually, the cause is not known but if the symptoms are noticed in early stages, the impairment can be treated.
How to Promote Awareness for Hearing Loss and Communication Problems?
The theme of this year’s Better Hearing and Speech Month is “Early Intervention Counts.” In order to help raise awareness of hearing loss and speech impairments the best thing to do is to get educated about the symptoms and to analyze their own speech and hearing ability. Parents should take their children to do various tests which will find out if their child’s hearing and speech are damaged or not. Hearing loss and communication disorders can be treated if they are discovered in early stages.