Make Every Sound and Word Count!

Published: 2024-05-21 00:00:00

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) observes May as "Better Speech and Hearing Month." This celebration was founded in 1927 by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). This month is dedicated to raising awareness about communication disorders and to recognizing the significant role audiologists and speech pathologists play in helping individuals overcome specific challenges.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), noise is now acknowledged as an important public health issue and is a top environmental risk faced by the world today. It has been reported that over 50% of people aged 12-35 years listen to music via personal audio devices at volumes that pose a risk to their hearing.

Audiologists are healthcare professionals specializing in identifying, diagnosing, treating, and monitoring disorders of the auditory and vestibular system. Audiologists study for four years after an undergraduate degree to earn their doctorate. What are some conditions for which you should see an audiologist?

  1. Hearing Loss Detection and Management: One of the primary reasons to see an audiologist is to have your hearing tested. Early identification and intervention for hearing loss is important; many people live with unidentified hearing loss, often failing to realize that they are missing certain sounds and words. Audiologists can determine the type and degree of hearing loss and provide suitable solutions, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants. 

  2. Tinnitus Evaluation and Treatment: If you experience ringing, buzzing, or other noises in your ears when no external sound is present, you might be experiencing tinnitus. Audiologists can offer therapies and technologies to help manage this sometimes debilitating condition.

  3. Earwax Blockage: Sometimes, hearing difficulties are simply the result of excessive earwax. Audiologists can safely remove earwax, restoring clear hearing. You should never use Q-Tips to try to remove earwax from your ears.

  4. Balance Disorders: Audiologists also address issues related to the vestibular system, as problems in the inner ear can affect balance and stability. They can assess and treat balance disorders, helping to prevent falls and improve mobility.

  5. Preventive Care: Exposure to loud noises can damage hearing over time. Audiologists can provide custom ear protection to prevent hearing loss in noisy environments, such as workplaces or during loud events.

Speech pathologists specialize in the evaluation and treatment of communication disorders, including speech, language, voice, and swallowing difficulties. What are some conditions for which you should see a speech pathologist?

  1. Speech Delays and Disorders in Children: Early intervention is crucial for children with speech and language delays. Speech pathologists can develop customized therapy plans to improve language skills, articulation, and oral motor ability.

  2. Stuttering and Fluency Issues: Stuttering can significantly impact an individual's confidence and ability to communicate effectively. Speech pathologists use various techniques to help people manage and overcome fluency disorders.

  3. Voice Disorders: For those experiencing issues with voice pitch, volume, or quality, a speech pathologist can offer strategies and therapies to improve voice control, which is essential for both personal and professional interactions.

  4. Recovery After a Stroke or Injury: Speech pathologists play a critical role in the rehabilitation of patients who have experienced a stroke or traumatic brain injury that has affected their ability to speak or swallow.

  5. Swallowing Difficulties: Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, can pose significant health risks. Speech pathologists assess and treat swallowing disorders to ensure safe eating and drinking.

National Speech and Hearing Month is the perfect time to encourage everyone to take their communicative health seriously. Whether it's scheduling a hearing test with an audiologist, consulting a speech pathologist for an assessment, or simply learning more about how to protect your ears and voice, this month serves as a reminder of the vital services these professionals provide. Let's spread knowledge, share resources, and support those with speech and hearing challenges.

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