Oskaloosa.com

May 9, 2013

Better Hearing and Speech Month is May

By DUANE NOLLEN
The Oskaloosa Herald

OSKALOOSA — May is Better Hearing and Speech Month and local care providers want to remind people to get their hearing checked to maintain their quality of life.

Better Hearing and Speech Month is an event that began in 1927 to encourage people to get their hearing checked, said Kristi Foster of Mahaska Hearing Aid. According to the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association, more than 28 million people have hearing loss.

How do you know that your hearing has degraded?

If you ask people to repeat themselves constantly; if you have to turn the TV up; if you have ringing in the ears; or if things sound mumbled, then you have hearing loss, Foster said.

“Get your hearing tested,” Foster said. “Even a slight loss can impact understanding.”

“It’s good to have regular hearing tests every year or two,” she said.

“It can be life-changing,” Adult Nurse Practitioner Lisa Nelson ARNP at Mahaska Health Partnership said of hearing loss.

Nelson said a person’s environment and their exposure to loud noises can dictate when to get a hearing test.

It’s best to have a test to establish a baseline reading. Then, you can get tests in the future.

“We don’t have a lot of clear-cut guidelines,” Nelson said. You can get a hearing test done after you have complaints about your hearing.

You don’t have to be old to experience hearing loss.

“I do a lot of tests, especially on young people,” Nelson said. Ear-bud headphones are usually a culprit for hearing loss in young people, she added.

“You shouldn’t hear sounds if you’re sitting next to someone with in-ear ear buds,” Nelson said.

Continuous exposure to loud music via ear-bud headphones can cause people to get hearing aids when they reach 40 to 50 years of age, Nelson said.

“Once it’s gone, there’s only so much can can correct with hearing aids,” Nelson said.

If you are exposed to loud noises, there are inexpensive ways to protect your hearing, Nelson said. In-ear foam ear plugs work well, she said.

How loud is loud?

More than 30 decibels is loud, Nelson said. A train whistle is 90 decibels; a jackhammer, 95 decibels; a hand drill, 98 decibels and a jet engine, 140 decibels, she said.

You can get hearing tests done at both Mahaska Hearing Aid and MHP.

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Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at oskynews@oskyherald.com