May is National Better Hearing Month and Experience Hearing Center encourages the public to be more aware of their hearing health with regular hearing screenings.

“I encourage everyone to receive a baseline hearing evaluation by a licensed and certified hearing professional,” says Richard Leroux (la-roo), B.S., BC-HIS, a Nationally Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist.  “Hearing loss can be gradual so it can be difficult for an individual to identify any changes over time.  An annual evaluation helps us identify any changes early.”

Leroux explains that sound is processed in our brain, so early detection and treatment of a hearing loss is important.  “Your brain forgets how to process tones, so the longer an individual goes without amplification, the harder it is to reteach the brain to understand what it is hearing.”

On average, most Americans consider hearing loss a condition that is simply associated with aging. However, the number of Americans impacted by hearing loss has hit record numbers. According to the National Institutes of Health NIDCD, approximately 20 percent (48 million) of American adults aged 20 to 69, have some trouble with hearing and approximately 28.8 million could benefit from the use of hearing aids.

“Hearing loss is a problem with people of all ages,” explains Leroux.  “With increased use of earbuds, the number of Americans experiencing hearing loss at a younger age is growing. Hearing loss can be caused by exposure to loud noises, ear infections, trauma, or ear disease; harm to the inner ear and ear drum; illness or certain medications; and deterioration due to normal aging process.”

Some signs of hearing loss may include:

· Having to turn up the volume of the television or radio, and having other family members complain that the volume is too loud.

· Difficulty understanding people speaking to you and asking people to repeat themselves.

· Difficulty with phone conversations and understanding the other person.

· Sudden inability to hear the door bell, the dog barking, the cat meowing, and other household sounds.

· People telling you that you speak too loudly.

· Ringing in the ears.

“People with hearing loss that is not treated are more likely to experience depression and worry compared to those who do wear hearing aids,” says Leroux. “Untreated hearing loss may have serious emotional and social effect on older adults by cutting them off from family members and friends, limiting social activities, and lowering their feeling of good health.”

Working with a qualified hearing professional, people with a hearing loss can evaluate the benefits of hearing aid use and learn to overcome some of the adverse effects that hearing loss can have on their quality of life.

“It’s important that individuals with a hearing loss use appropriate technology for their specific level of hearing loss,” says Leroux. “Hearing loss is a very complex medical condition.  Hearing aids do not just make sounds louder.  They are complicated medical devices that should be programmed and fitted specifically for you.

It is important to understand the cause of your hearing loss.  “Online or mobile app-based hearing screening tests are not full hearing tests and cannot tell you why you have a hearing loss,” explains Leroux.  “It can be something as minor as too much earwax or as major as a brain tumor.”

Currently, online hearing screenings can only alert you that your hearing loss is not normal and that you need further testing with a licensed and certified hearing professional – they cannot tell you the cause of your hearing loss.

Additionally, hearing aids not programmed to an individual’s specific hearing loss may result in further hearing damage.  “Using the wrong kind of hearing aid or turning the device up too loud can result in permanent hearing damage,” says Leroux.  “Hearing professionals may adjust hearing aids to make sounds louder where you need it and to lower background noise.  This should help you understand speech better in everyday environments.”

The first step in treatment of a hearing problem is a hearing screening.  Experience Hearing Center’s Hearing Instrument Specialist, Richard Leroux is Board Certified by the National Board for Certification in Hearing Instrument Sciences and provides Hearing Screenings for free.

Richard Leroux, B.S., BC-HIS is licensed in the state of Missouri and Nationally Board Certified.  Experience Hearing Center’s main office is located at 1505 W. Austin Blvd., Nevada, MO, 417-667-5566.  Free hearing screenings are available at the Nevada location Monday – Thursday, 9 am – 4 pm (appointment recommended) and on Fridays by appointment only; and in El Dorado Springs on the third Friday of every month, by appointment only.

In celebration of National Better Hearing Month, Experience Hearing Center will share hearing health tips throughout the month of May on its Facebook page,

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