Doctor emphasize importance of hearing in overall health

KENNEWICK, WA - May is Better Speech and Hearing Month and medical professionals are raising awareness on hearing problems.

Hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition found in older adults in the United States. That's according to the American Speech Language Hearing Association.

Dr. Shannon Aiello with Columbia Basin Hearing Center said there's about 46 million Americans that have hearing loss, but only 10% of those people seek treatment.

"And so we are trying to be proactive and getting the word out about having people get their hearing tested, get baseline test, before they have problems," Dr. Aiello said.

Right behind aging, Dr. Aiello said one of the biggest causes of hearing loss is noise.

"So, we have to be so careful with noise levels, headphones, recreational activities, even mowing the lawn, hair dryers things like that. We are exposed to these dangers noises all the time," she said.

She said you have to be aware to protect your hearing and she suggests using ear plugs as much as you can.

Studies show hearing loss is linked to certain health conditions.

"For example, hearing loss and dementia are cognitive decline. There is a strong association with that as much so that as it gets worse in your hearing, you are actually up to five times more likely to develop a cognitive decline or dementia like conditions which is pretty significant," she said.

When you treat hearing loss, she said patients see those numbers go down. People with mild hearing loss are three times more likely to fall which is a problem for seniors.

"Being preventive with your hearing care is so much more important than it used to be, to be part of a healthy process and healthy living," she said.

Dr. Aiello encourages everyone to get their baseline hearing test once a year. Many facilities, like Columbia Basin Hearing Center offers free testing.