During the final week of Better Hearing & Speech Month, we wrap up the topic of “Communication Across the Lifespan” by looking at hearing issues in adults. Hearing loss is often thought of as a natural effect of old age and, as such, is typically left untreated. In fact, only 14% of adults with hearing loss who could benefit from amplification seek a hearing aid. However, identifying hearing loss early can be crucial: Hearing loss may be linked to other serious issues such as dementia, diabetes, falls, social isolation, and depression.

Equally important to hearing loss treatment is hearing loss prevention. The hearing-related dangers of heavy machinery, firearms, and fireworks at a close distance are well known. However, routine activities such as going to concerts or nightclubs or even attending a music-based fitness class can carry dangerous noise levels. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association recommends that if you must raise your voice to be heard, can’t hear or understand a person 3 feet away from you, or experience tinnitus (a ringing in your ears) hours or days after the event, then the noise level may be too high. Over-the-counter earplugs are a widely available solution, but some individuals may benefit from having earplugs custom made and fit by an audiologist.

The articles highlighted below from the American Journal of Audiology and Perspectivesfocus on hearing loss treatment and prevention. Additional resources, including a self-evaluation for hearing screening, are available through ASHA’s Hearing and Balance page or the BHSM homepage.

We hope that these articles have provided a helpful context and springboard for discussion during Better Hearing & Speech Month! Although BHSM is only 1 month per year, you can advocate for the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology year-round by citing and sharing (on social media) articles from the ASHA Journals and resources from ASHA’s Information for the Public page.