May was a month dedicated to Better Hearing. We love spreading the word about the importance of hearing well. Almost everyone in your life can benefit from learning about the benefits of hearing and communicating well. For healthy adults with no risk factors for hearing loss, it may serve you well to get a baseline hearing test. These can be helpful for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, as you age, if your hearing starts to deteriorate, you will be able to tell how much it has changed over time. Secondly, if you have any unfortunate circumstances that affect your hearing, such as a car accident or a sudden loss of hearing, you will be able to prove that there was a change in hearing.

Quick and drastic changes in hearing can occur for several reasons including traumatic brain injury, stroke, or a virus. When these unfortunate circumstances happen, most people realize how drastic their change in hearing was. Others, who have a gradual hearing loss, may not even be aware that their hearing has changed. There are many risk factors for hearing loss that typically cause the hearing to decline over time. These include kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, and a family history of hearing loss. If you have any of these risk factors it is important to get a hearing test as soon as you can. Finding a hearing loss in the early stages is beneficial for treatment success.

When a person has a hearing loss for many years and it is left untreated, their brain gets used to missing some of the speech sounds. When someone has a high-frequency hearing loss, which is a common type of hearing loss that is associated with aging and noise exposure, they are missing many of the consonant sounds. Some of the high-frequency speech sounds that are often missed are: ‘f’, ‘s’, and ‘th’. If the brain goes many years without hearing these sounds, the brain pathways that code for these sounds are not in use. A common saying about the brain is “If you don’t use it, you lose it!” With hearing aids, we can help those with hearing loss hear the sounds they are missing. Someone that has been missing the speech sounds for only a year generally will have an easier adjustment compared to someone who has been missing the sounds for ten years. Either way, it is important to stimulate the brain and access all the speech sounds, but you can make it easier by getting fit with hearing aids as soon as possible if you have a hearing loss.

We also want to highlight and educate about Auditory Processing Disorder. Some individuals may take a hearing test and be able to respond to the beeps at normal levels, but they have trouble making sense of the sounds. Since auditory processing disorders are still not common knowledge even among medical professionals, many people struggle for years without getting tested. If you know someone who struggles with hearing difficulty even though they have been told their hearing is normal, please let them know that an auditory processing evaluation may help them. If you do have an auditory processing disorder, there are treatment options that may benefit you greatly. Individualized therapy or hearing aids can make all the difference in the world. Some people can struggle with auditory processing disorder their whole life while others notice a change after trauma, such as a brain injury. Our appointments for APD will be with our sister clinic Holistic Audiology, LLC.

Help us spread the word so that we can all celebrate better speech and hearing month! If you have questions or want to schedule a hearing evaluation, contact Oro Valley Audiology at 520-825-4770.