FRANKFORT, Ky. — With an estimated 48 million Americans experiencing hearing loss, the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is encouraging the public to act on the early signs of trouble – for the benefit of their health, cognitive well-being, physical safety, and overall quality of life – during national Better Hearing and Speech Month in May.
“Thousands of Kentuckians are affected by hearing loss and many of them are not diagnosed, because it often happens over time and they don’t realize it,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “Hearing loss is much more than a nuisance. It can affect every part of your life. I encourage Kentuckians who suspect they have a hearing loss to get it checked during Better Hearing and Speech Month.”
Nearly 700,000, or 16%, of Kentuckians are deaf and hard of hearing.
“We know that many adults wait years or even decades before getting help for their hearing loss, believing that they are getting by just fine,” said Virginia Moore, KCDHH executive director. “However, many aren’t doing as well as they think they are, and we want people to not just get by, but to thrive in their work and lives. As we learn more about the connection that hearing loss has to many other health and medical conditions, as well as how hearing loss can impact personal relationships, career success and overall happiness and satisfaction, we hope more people become motivated to take the next step and seek out a hearing evaluation from a certified audiologist.”
The following questions can help adults determine if they are having hearing difficulties:
- Do you have dizziness, pain or ringing in your ears?
- Do people around you often seem to mumble?
- Do you often need to ask people to repeat themselves?
- Do others complain about you turning up the TV volume too high?
- Do you have trouble following conversation when more than one person is talking?
- Do you have trouble hearing on the phone?
- Do you have to listen carefully or put in extra effort to understand conversation?
- Do you have trouble hearing in noisy environments, such as restaurants?
If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, you likely would benefit from a hearing evaluation.
Hearing loss is more than a harmless annoyance. If you have a hearing loss, you might have a higher risk of developing certain health conditions including depression, anxiety, falls and other injuries, and cognitive decline and dementia. This is especially true for people who let their hearing loss go untreated.
In addition, studies have shown that hearing loss also is associated with social isolation, lower wages, higher medical costs, and more hospitalizations with longer stays.
If you are experiencing any of the signs of hearing loss or if you think you have hearing loss, see your doctor or a licensed audiologist to assess the degree of your hearing loss, treat it, and develop a plan to prevent further loss. There are several assistive technologies available through KCDHH’s Telecommunications Access Program that can help you stay connected to emergency information and health care providers.
For more information, visit the KCDHH website at kcdhh.ky.gov. KCDHH is in the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.