Last updated: May 05. 2014 9:07AM - 1352 Views
Amanda Crabtree

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Throughout the month of May, awareness will be raised about hearing loss and speech disorders through the observance of Better Speech and Hearing Month. The American Speech-Language Hearing Association is sponsoring a national “Identify the Signs” campaign to make people aware of hearing loss and other communication disorders.

According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, hearing loss affects 36 million American adults and is increasing in children in recent years. Left untreated, hearing loss in children can have a negative impact on their speech and language development, communication and learning. This can impact social success, academic development and future vocational choices.

In adults, untreated hearing loss is tied to social isolation, depression, early exit from the workforce and an overall reduced quality of life. New research also has found a strong link between degree of hearing loss and risk of developing dementia.

Audiologist Dr. Brittany Brown of Southeastern Center of Audiology, an affiliate of Southeastern Health, offers these tips to protect hearing:

— Wear hearing protection anytime you are around loud sounds such as firearms and power tools.

— Hearing protection devices or earplugs should be placed into the ear canal so they totally block the canal. They come in different shapes and sizes, or they can be custom-made by taking an impression of the ear. Earplugs can reduce noise by 15 to 30 decibels depending on how they are made and fit.

— Have an annual hearing evaluation beginning at age 50.

“It is important for anyone who experiences symptoms such as failure to respond to spoken words, muffled hearing, constant frustration hearing speech and other sounds, avoiding conversation, social isolation or depression to schedule a hearing assessment,” said Brown.

Brown will present a program on hearing health to Southeastern Health’s PrivilegesPlus members on May 13 at 11 a.m. in the classroom at Southeastern Surgical Center located within Southeastern Health Mall on the campus of Biggs Park Mall.

Individuals age 50 and older may join the affinity program during the event for an annual $10 membership fee. To register or for information about the program, call 910-671-5018.

To learn more about communication disorders, log on to www.identifythesigns.org or call Southeastern Center of Audiology, located at 584 Farringdom St. in Lumberton, at 910-671-5014.

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