National Deaf History Month begins on March 13. In 1996, the National Association of the Deaf suggested the week become a full-fledged month, and in 1997, the first annual, nation-wide National Deaf History Month was celebrated. March 13 – April 15 is a time for education and promoting a greater understanding of hearing loss and deafness.
In a study of 18 to 69-year-olds with untreated hearing loss reported significantly higher instances of depression than peers with normal hearing. Research shows that people with hearing loss that use hearing aids are more likely to be optimistic, and feel more confident and engaged in life. Treating hearing loss boosts optimism and confidence and can reduces the risk of cognitive decline due to being able to participate in group activities, and that they’re more likely to have a strong social network.
Hearing issues can include Tinnitus, which is the medical term for the sensation of hearing sound in your ears when no external sound is present. Tinnitus effects 50 million Americans (nearly one in six of us). Most sufferers describe the sound as “ringing in ears,” though others describe it as hissing, buzzing, whistling, roaring and even chirping. For some, Tinnitus is mild and an intermittent annoyance. For others, it’s severe and can have a profound effect on their quality of life. Loud Noises and Hearing Loss — Exposure to loud noises can destroy the non-regenerative cilia (tiny hairs) in the cochlea, causing permanent Tinnitus and/or hearing loss. Noise-induced Tinnitus is often the result of exposure to loud environmental noises, such as working in a factory setting, with or around heavy machinery, or even a single event like a gunshot or loud concert.
Aging — Natural aging, too, gradually destroys the cilia, and is a leading cause of hearing loss. Tinnitus is a common symptom of age-related hearing loss.
Ototoxic Medications – Some prescription medications such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, antidepressants, diuretics and others can be ototoxic, meaning they are harmful to the inner ear as well as the nerve fibers connecting the cochlea to the brain.
Hearing Conditions – Conditions such as Ménière’s disease are known to cause Tinnitus.
Health Conditions – Tinnitus has been associated with a number of health conditions, including: Cardiovascular disease; hypertension (high blood pressure); thyroid problems; fibromyalgia and chronic pain; head or neck trauma; jaw misalignment; auditory, vestibular or facial nerve tumors; and stress and fatigue
Thus, it shouldn’t be surprising that 90 percent of people with Tinnitus also deal with some level of noise-induced hearing loss. Moreover, the two often go hand in hand.
Living with hearing loss is not easy but there are some things that you can do to help
1. Use assistive technologies; there are more than ever before different devices to help those who are hard of hearing. These could be hearing aids, Personal amplifiers, Infrared headsets or Telephones for hear of hearing (these are free for anyone who has hearing loss just go to http://www.ftri.org for phone equipment)
2. Don’t hide your limited hearing ability from other people. Asking others to talk more slowly Saying “I’m hard of hearing” is a good start, but “it doesn’t give the person you’re talking with advice for how they can best help you,”
3. Be clear about what you need them to do. You can ask them to look at you when they speak. Also, ask that they not eat, chew gum, or smoke when they’re talking so you can see their mouth.
4. Don’t give up going out or avoiding situations where we have to communicate with others, withdrawing ourselves from family life, and from social situations
Take with your doctor about any hearing loss immediately. Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers diagnostic hearing and balance exams if your doctor or other health care provider orders these tests to see if you need medical treatment. Medicare doesn’t cover hearing exams, hearing aids, or exams for fitting hearing aids but there are other groups that might be able to help.