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Celebrate Bettering Hearing and Speech Month

by | May 7, 2021 | In the News

ST. JOHNSBURY, VT (May 6, 2021) – According to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), “approximately 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss.” The prevalence of hearing loss is twice as common as diabetes or cancer. In recognition of May being Better Hearing and Speech Month, North Country Otolaryngology and Audiology will be offering the community free hearing screenings on May 19, 3 p.m. – 6 p.m., May 21, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and May 26, 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.

“Hearing is extremely important to maintaining physical, social, mental and emotional wellbeing,” NVRH Audiologist Dr. Christie Leung said. “Individuals who have trouble hearing may be more socially isolated and they are more likely to develop loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Hearing loss also causes under-stimulation of the brain, increasing the risk for falls and developing dementia.”

Hearing issues affect a diverse range of individuals. Age is the strongest predictor of hearing loss among adults; 91 percent of adults with hearing loss are aged 50 and older. Hearing loss and/or tinnitus is also the most common service-connected disability among American veterans. One of the most common ways people damage their hearing is through excessive noise exposure, leading to noise-induced hearing loss.

It is also important to monitor children’s hearing at an early age. Approximately three of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable hearing loss in one or both ears. 15 percent of school-age children (aged six – 19) have some degree of hearing loss.

Treatment can significantly improve quality of life both for the person suffering from hearing loss and for his/her significant other. Dr. Lin from Johns Hopkins Medicine stated that “there’s no downside to using hearing aids. They … can make all the difference in the world—allowing people to reengage with friends and family and to be more involved again.” However, according to the HLAA, “only one in five people who would benefit from a hearing aid actually uses one.”

If you are struggling with a hearing loss, some helpful tips to improve your hearing health include making sure everyone in the conversation is in the same room, avoiding unnecessary background noise, sitting next to the person you are talking to and simply slowing down. When people speak slower, it gives the brain time to catch up. Ultimately, it is important to get your hearing checked for a baseline because early identification and treatment of a potential hearing loss can help minimize risks later in life.

In addition to offering free hearing screenings during Better Hearing and Speech Month, North Country Otolaryngology and Audiology is excited to welcome NVRH Speech-Language Pathologist Sierra Downs, MA CCC-SLP to the office space. Downs, who was originally located on Sherman Drive, is now located in the Bloch Building on Hospital Drive.

“Speech and hearing both greatly contribute to our daily wellbeing,” Downs said. “A really important component to finding your voice, to engaging with your world and communicating that engagement, is being able to hear – and then accurately process – acoustic speech signals. We often take for granted the complexity of speech recognition and language comprehension.”

Downs also emphasizes that early identification of hearing difficulties, along with appropriate hearing health management, has been shown to have a profound impact on our overall cognitive health.

The Speech-Language Pathology department provides services to individuals suffering from disorders related to voice and articulation, including stuttering; hearing loss; and cognitive re-training around head injuries and other neurological impairments.

The hearing screenings will take only about five to six minutes. If there is a noticeable hearing loss, a recommendation for a full audiological evaluation will be made. Participants will also receive information regarding general hearing and hearing loss, and different appropriate treatment options.

For more information and to reserve your spot for a free hearing screening, please contact North Country Otolaryngology and Audiology at 802-748-5126.

Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital

PO Box 905
1315 Hospital Drive
St. Johnsbury, Vermont 05819

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