National Speech-Language-Hearing Month: Tips for Protecting Your Hearing Health


At American Hearing + Audiology, we’re excited that May is National Speech-Language-Hearing Month! Today, we’re looking at the history of this celebration, as well as sharing our best tips for protecting your hearing and communication health.


Celebrating Communication: What is the History of Better Hearing and Speech Month?


In 1927, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) established Better Speech and Hearing Month. This initiative aims to enhance public understanding of speech and hearing disorders, advocate for hearing loss prevention, and motivate individuals to seek help for speech and hearing concerns.


ASHA, a pivotal organization for speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and speech/language/hearing scientists in the United States, set out to create national standards and certification for these professionals. Throughout May, ASHA hosts what is now called National Speech-Language-Hearing Month to increase awareness of communication challenges.


National Speech-Language-Hearing Month has grown to be an essential time for spotlighting:


  • The challenges of speech and language disorders,
  • The impact of hearing loss,
  • The critical role of early intervention,
  • The transformative effects of communication services.


This month also honors the commitment of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and audiologists. These professionals dedicate themselves to enhancing the lives of those facing communication hurdles. Their tireless efforts improve individual lives and significantly contribute to our understanding of communication health.


Why is National Speech-Language-Hearing Important?


Clear communication underpins our daily interactions, professional success, and social relationships. However, effective communication depends on the seamless integration of hearing, speech, and language. National Speech-Language-Hearing Month spotlights this intricate connection and the importance of communication health.


Hearing: Essential for Clear Communication

Effective hearing is the cornerstone of understanding. It allows us to perceive the nuances of language—from the essential sounds to the emotional tone of conversations. Good hearing helps us distinguish between similar sounds and follow conversations in noisy settings, ensuring we don’t miss out on meaningful interactions.


Language: Constructing Meaning

Language builds on the sounds we hear, enabling us to understand and construct meaningful dialogue. It encompasses everything from knowing words and grammar to expressing thoughts and engaging socially. This capability is fundamental to participating in conversations and forming bonds with others.

A speech-language pathologist points to her mouth and to a whiteboard.

Speech: Conveying Ideas

Speech translates our thoughts and language into a form others can understand. Proper articulation and clarity in speech are vital for effective communication, ensuring we convey our messages accurately. Additionally, fluency and intonation enrich our verbal expressions, adding depth to our interactions.


The Impact of Communication Disorders

When hearing, speech or language is impaired, it disrupts communication. Hearing loss, for example, can lead to misunderstandings and social withdrawal. Speech disorders like stuttering may impact one’s confidence and interpersonal interactions. Similarly, language processing disorders can hinder both understanding and expression.


Let’s use this month to recognize the importance of our communication health and the professionals who support it.


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Hear Today, Hear Tomorrow: Simple Tips for Everyday Hearing Health


National Speech-Language-Hearing Month is a helpful reminder that protecting your hearing should always be a priority. Here are practical tips to help safeguard this vital sense in your daily environment.


Be Mindful of Noise Levels

Understanding the noise levels around you is crucial. If you must shout to converse or turn up your TV volume, the setting is too loud. Opt for quieter spaces to ensure long-term ear health.


Distance Yourself from Loud Noises

Whenever possible, step away from sources of loud noise. Enjoy the music from a distance at concerts, and if office music is too loud, kindly ask for it to be lowered.


Limit Exposure Time

Reduce your exposure to loud environments. Take regular breaks in quieter areas during events or in noisy work settings to give your ears a rest.


Invest in Earplugs

Earplugs are a simple yet effective method to protect your ears. Choose ones with an appropriate Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) for various activities, such as attending concerts or sports events.

A finger turns a volume dial down.

Turn Down the Volume

Keep the volume of your headphones and personal devices at safe levels. Adhere to the 60/60 rule: at most 60% volume for no longer than 60 minutes. Consider using volume-monitoring apps to keep track.


Understand the Noise in Your World

Everyday sounds, often overlooked, can significantly impact your hearing:


  • Traffic Noise: Sounds from busy streets can exceed 85 dB, posing risks with prolonged exposure.
  • Household Appliances: Devices like vacuum cleaners and blenders often operate above 80 dB. Limit your use and take breaks.
  • Recreational Tools: Equipment like lawnmowers or power tools can reach over 90 dB. Always use ear protection.


Protecting Your Hearing from Music and Entertainment

Enjoy your music and entertainment without compromising your hearing:


  • Use Noise-Cancelling Headphones: These reduce the need to increase volume by minimizing background noise.
  • Take Listening Breaks: Pause every 15-20 minutes to rest your ears, especially when using headphones.
  • Control the Volume: Always opt for lower volume settings, even in noisy surroundings.


Water Safety and Your Ears

Enjoy swimming without risking your ear health:


  • Use Swimming Earplugs: They prevent water from entering the ear canal and reduce chlorine exposure.
  • Dry Your Ears: After swimming, carefully dry your outer ears to avoid trapped moisture, which can lead to infections.
  • Consult a Professional: See a doctor if you experience ear pain or discomfort after swimming.


These simple practices can significantly improve hearing health. To celebrate National Speech-Language-Hearing Month, take steps to protect your ears every day.


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The Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss: Recognizing When It’s Time for a Hearing Test 


Recognizing the early signs of hearing loss can lead to timely and effective interventions. Here are key indicators that it might be time to schedule a hearing test:

Three people riding in a car.

  • Difficulty in Noisy Settings: Struggling to follow conversations in noisy environments like restaurants or cars.
  • Increasing the Volume: You often need to turn up the volume on your TV or radio higher than usual.
  • Frequent Misunderstandings: Regularly mishearing what people say, leading to confusion and embarrassment.
  • Conversation Fatigue: Feeling exhausted from the effort it takes to hear and understand others in conversations.
  • Constantly Asking for Repetition: Frequently asking people to repeat themselves because you didn’t catch what they said.
  • Trouble with High-Pitched Voices: Having difficulty understanding children or women, indicating loss of high-frequency hearing.
  • Phone Communication Issues: Experiencing challenges with hearing clearly during phone calls.
  • Social Withdrawal: Avoiding social interactions due to difficulty following discussions.
  • Ringing in the Ears: Noticing ringing or buzzing sounds in your ears, a condition known as tinnitus.
  • Conversational Frustration: Becoming easily frustrated during conversations which can be a reaction to hearing difficulties.


If you notice these signs, consider them a prompt to take action. Early detection of hearing loss can significantly improve your quality of life and maintain your connection to the world around you.


Investing in Communication: Your Path to a Brighter Future with Healthy Hearing


This month highlights simple, daily practices to protect our hearing and the importance of professional hearing evaluations. Let’s carry these insights beyond just May and make hearing health a consistent priority. If you’ve noticed any changes in your hearing or just want to ensure your ears are in top shape, contact American Hearing + Audiology today for a comprehensive hearing test. Take the next step towards clear hearing and a better quality of life—your ears will thank you.