May is Better Hearing/Speech Month
As spring and summer bring an increase in outdoor activities, this is the right time of year to be more aware of speech and hearing issues. Typical recreational activities can increase exposure to potentially damaging problems.
Experts in the audiology and speech pathology department at The Methodist Hospital in Houston have a few tips to keep your speech and hearing in working order.
1. Protect your hearing: If youíre mowing the lawn, working on an outdoor project that involves loud power tools or watching a fire works display, wear noise protection. These can be ear plugs or other hearing protectors. Noise from exploding fireworks can top 130 decibels. Research has shown that exposure to 105 decibels for one hour can put you at risk of hearing damage.
2. Use your normal voice: Parties are fun, but they can actually lead to vocal and hearing damage. Loud music and large groups of people talking loudly can cause voice damage and/or hearing impairment. Try to use your normal voice, avoid throat clearing and donít whisper. Whispering is as hard on your voice as talking very loudly. Also, if you feel strain or tension in your throat, neck or shoulders, youíre talking too loud. Avoid further irritation of the vocal cords caused by smoking or drinking alcohol. Finally, drink lots of clear liquids when your throat is dry.
3. You may have a hearing loss if you:
1. Frequently ask people to repeat themselves
2. Often turn your ear toward a sound to hear it better
3. Keep the volume on your radio or TV at a level that others say is too loud
4. Have pain or ringing in your ears (tinnitus)
5. Have an ear infection (swimmerís ear)
6. Have a perforated eardrum
4. Common voice disorders: Most of these disorders are related to trauma to the vocal folds from excessive or intense voice use. Vocal nodules, polyps and cysts are common use-related problems that occur in adults. Irritants, such as acid reflux and environmental allergies, also account for many throat and voice complaints. Treating these irritants can go a long way to preserving your voice.
5. Swallowing disorders: As people age, they may have difficulty swallowing. These problems frequently accompany difficulty with speech. Studies suggest the prevalence of dysphagia (swallowing disorders)may be as high as 22 percent in those over 50. To help alleviate swallowing problems, sit upright when eating, drinking and taking medication; chew food thoroughly; and brush your teeth after each meal.
To learn more, visit www.methodisthealth.com/entmonth or for more information, call 713.790.3333.
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