May is Better Speech and Hearing Month
By Katherine Miller
CROWLEY – The month of May, which is Better Hearing and Speech Month, is a period during which hearing health professionals across the nation stress the importance of healthy hearing practices.
Here are some recently acquired facts that emphasize the importance of getting your hearing tested: 50 percent of adults with hearing loss have never had their hearing tested; 22 million of Americans have hearing loss caused by exposure to loud sounds due to ear buds, headphones and loud speakers; 32.5 million Americans experience some degree of hearing loss.
John Casanova, a local ear nose and throat doctor (ENT), stresses the importance of maintaining good hearing health.
“Many of us can hear very well, but we have difficulty understanding certain voices or in certain situations,” he informed.
Casanova went on to explain that hearing is just part of the understanding equation, but to take part in conversation, first, process the information, then respond. With normal hearing, the process is almost effortless. But with hearing loss, things become more difficult to understand, so we may become less attentive, and our response is simply “huh?”
“Hearing loss not only affects you, but also the people around you. It can make you avoid a situation or setting that may be uncomfortable because you can’t hear,” Casanova said. “Many times, people miss out on important family events, and life is too short not to live every day to its fullest.”
Casanova also cleared the air about myths many people have about hearing loss. Hearing loss occurs gradually, and the signs are subtle at first. Due to our built-in defenses and ability to adapt, hearing loss should never be self-diagnosed.
Many people also think that living with hearing loss is not a big deal, and that it happens in old age. Casanova informed that there are many psychological effects to hearing loss at any age, such as frustration, withdrawal and depression. Trouble communicating with people creates a strain on relationships and self esteem.
Signs and symptoms of hearing loss include: hearing people speak but straining to understand the words; frequently asking people to repeat what they have said; missing the punch line or story to a joke; playing the television louder than relatives.
Carolyn Barousse, a speech therapist in Crowley, says that speech problems may exist across all ages, from infants to geriatrics.
“Early intervention and detection are very important when dealing with these types of disorders,” Barousse explained.
Typical signs that a person may be in need of speech therapy are: difficulty with speech production and making needs known; difficulty expression oneself verbally and difficulty comprehending spoken words, such as following directions.
Barousse also informed that speech therapists are trained to deal with all different types of speech disorders, to include swallowing problems, cognitive deficits, as well as many others.
Early Steps of Louisiana is a program that aids children ages birth to three years, according to the needs of the child. For more information, contact the Louisiana Department at www.familieshelpingfamilies.net.