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May is Better Speech and Hearing Month!

Since May is Better Speech and Hearing Month, I decided to write about

With a sample of nearly 2,500 participants, American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA), surveyed 18+ year olds about their attitudes toward hearing health. Their findings from March 2021 were: Hearing Health is Important to Americans, in "Theory," and The vast majority of Americans recognize the importance of maintaining hearing health, and hearing health’s impact on daily life and overall health. Nearly 7-in-10 understand that untreated hearing loss can lead to feelings of social isolation and nearly as many realize it can lead to feelings of depression. Social and emotional impacts aside, more than half realize that those with hearing loss are more likely to have trouble with balance. Among employed Americans, concerns that hearing difficulties could hurt their ability to remain employed were reported by 37%, and concerns that hearing difficulties would reduce their effectiveness at work were reported by 44%.

However, in Actuality, Barriers to Acknowledging Hearing Problems and Seeking Treatment are Pervasive. Nearly 3 in 4 Americans (75%) claim they would get their hearing tested if they experienced difficulty hearing. Yet, roughly half of Americans report some degree of trouble hearing—and most have not taken action. Among all adults, just two in 10 U.S. adults report having their hearing tested in the past 5 years, compared to six in 10 for vision. Still more concerning, only 11% of those who report difficulty hearing are being treated.

Americans seem complacent toward addressing minor to moderate hearing problems, with 6-in-10 of those, with untreated hearing difficulties, saying that if their hearing is fine in some situations, they are unlikely to seek treatment. Nearly, the same amount indicate that they would only want to be treated if their hearing difficulty was “severe.” Fully two-thirds of those with hearing trouble who have not yet sought treatment cited at least one barrier to seeking help for hearing difficulties. Roughly 1-in-3 with untreated hearing problems seem resigned to simply living with hearing difficulties. Financial factors are common barriers, including treatment costing too much, insurance not covering enough of the cost, or lacking health insurance.

Additionally, while working in a loud environment and using headphones at high volume are most commonly recognized as potential contributing factors in hearing loss, far fewer see attending sports or other large events, hunting, or playing an instrument as factors. Nearly half of Americans don’t take any of the precautions asked about to protect their hearing.

So in sum: Nearly 50% don't take precautions or use anything to protect their hearing- Another study I read stated that 81% of 15-60 year olds "seldom" or "never" protect their hearing. Even more concerning is that yet roughly half of Americans report some degree of hearing trouble – and most have not sought treatment - Of those with some degree of difficulty, the vast majority seem resistant to the idea that they are in need of treatment. - Only 11% of those experiencing self-acknowledged hearing difficulty have been treated. Roughly 1-in-3 with untreated hearing problems seem resigned to simply living with hearing difficulties.

My hope that during Better Speech and Hearing Month, at least a few of you will think about getting hearing tested, wearing ear protection (PepPlugs), and take your hearing health seriously. Protect your hearing, no one else is going to do it for you! with hopes hearing health, -Radha Joy

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