On Your Health

Check back to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog for the latest health and wellness news for all Oklahomans.

Now Hear This!

04 May 2016

Posted in

Today we have a post from our guest blogger, Amy Arrington, who has 23 years of experience as a certified speech-language pathologist and listening and spoken language specialist. She provides speech-language services for children and adults who are deaf or hard of hearing.

As a listening and spoken language specialist, and manager of the INTEGRIS Cochlear Implant Clinic, I feel compelled to talk to you about Better Hearing and Speech Month, which kicked off this week.

Before I started working for INTEGRIS more than nine years ago, I primarily worked with children who had hearing loss. At INTEGRIS I started working with adults, too. I soon learned the special rewards in working with them, because adult patients know everything they are missing when they develop a hearing impairment, and they are very appreciative of the help we can give.

Now, back to Better Hearing and Speech Month. Hearing loss can happen so gradually that older adults might start losing their hearing and never even notice. Those little hair cells inside our cochlea (that's the organ of hearing in our inner ear) stop bouncing back and we start using our vision to help us hear.

That might sound strange, but it's true. We start watching people’s lips, faces and actions to fill in the words or sounds we miss. Our brains fill in the gaps, too. We might hear, “Please pick up a dozen egg before you come home” but our brains fill in the 's' because we have learned the plural over many years.

Another example might be a waiter at a noisy restaurant saying, “Can I take your order?” You might just hear "order" but because of your situation -- and the waiter standing next to your table holding a pad of paper, with his eyes raised like he's waiting for an answer -- you know from past experience he really asked the whole question and is waiting for you to respond.

The birds stop singing, the leaves stop rustling in the wind, even the pesky faucet does not drip anymore. These slight hearing losses can sneak up on us. We think, “Oh, it is not that bad,” without considering what we are really missing.

Are you missing important information at work because you didn't hear the context? Could that be the reason your coworker got the promotion and you didn’t?  Are you missing precious conversations with your family?

Even a slight or mild hearing loss can make a person feel exhausted. After struggling all day trying so hard to hear coworkers, friends and family members, by evening it's no wonder you're drained and tired. This constant struggle can also lead to depression. If you hear better, you will have a better quality of life.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, one in three people in the United States has hearing loss by age 60.

And so, in honor of Better Hearing and Speech Month, we encourage everyone over the age of 55, or others who suspect they have hearing loss, to have your hearing screened. Research shows that every person over the age of 55 should have their hearing screened once a year, just like having a mammogram or getting your cholesterol checked.

The INTEGRIS Cochlear Implant Clinic offers free hearing screenings. The number to call to set up a screening time is 405-947-6030. If the screening shows that you do have hearing loss, there are many devices available that can help compensate for hearing loss, such as amplified telephones, flashing door bells, vibrating alarm clocks, TV listening devices and personal communicators, as well as hearing aids and cochlear implants.

In addition, on May 20, the INTEGRIS Cochlear Implant Clinic and Hough Ear Institute will host a free, come-and-go Hearing Health Fair. INTEGRIS surgeons, audiologists, speech-language pathologists and certified auditory verbal therapists will be on hand to answer your questions and demonstrate equipment.

The Hearing Health Fair will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. at INTEGRIS Health Edmond, 4801 INTEGRIS Parkway, Edmond, OK 73034.