The Wheeling Hospital Center for Audiology, Center for Pediatrics and Speech Pathology departments are celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month this May as dedicated by the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association.
Since 1927, the association has been committed to raising public awareness of speech, language, swallowing and hearing disorders that affect more than 14 million Americans. Swallowing disorders affect an estimated 15 million adults.
There is collaboration of audiology, speech pathology as well as ear, nose and throat services at Wheeling Hospital. Speech and language disorders can take many forms and limit academic achievement, social adjustment and career advancement. An individual may be born with a speech or language disorder, or it may be caused by accidental injury or illness. Fortunately, a speech/language pathologist can successfully treat many of these speech/language and swallowing problems.
At Wheeling Hospital, there are seven ASHA-certified, state-licensed speech/language pathologists who work with patients in a variety of settings including outpatient, inpatient, skilled care and at the Center for Pediatrics.
Frank Basilone, director of Wheeling Hospital's Speech Pathology Department, said patients of all ages can receive comprehensive diagnostic testing, evaluation and remediation of a variety of communication disorders. Individuals are served both on an inpatient and outpatient basis. Services are available at Wheeling Hospital and Belmont Community Hospital.
Dr. Brandon Lichtman, the audiologist at the Center for Audiology at Wheeling Hospital, encourages baby boomers to get their hearing checked early so they can better manage the quality of life issues that often result from unaddressed hearing loss.
"We must stop treating hearing loss as a minor problem," Lichtman said. "Research by Johns Hopkins University shows that people with hearing loss who don't use hearing aids are more likely to develop dementia than those with hearing loss who use hearing aids."
He added that hearing loss can be easily diagnosed, and for most people, there are solutions in the form of digital and programmable hearing aids, many of which are not visible.
"Many people associate hearing loss with advancing age, but hearing loss also is associated with exposure to loud noises - something that some baby boomers have faced since childhood. About two out of three people with hearing loss are below retirement age," said Lichtman.
Symptoms of hearing loss include not being able to hear well in a crowded room or restaurant, having to ask friends to repeat what they are saying, or not being able to hear sounds that others seem to be able to hear better.
"Too many people cling to the belief that wearing a hearing aid won't help fix their hearing problems," said Lichtman. "We hope people, especially baby boomers, understand that hearing aids work better than ever and can dramatically improve the quality of their lives."
The Center for Audiology at Wheeling Hospital also has locations at the Belmont Community Health Center in Bellaire, and in Wellsburg. Hearing aids are at all locations. Lichtman is offering free hearing aid checks and cleanings this month to promote better hearing. To schedule an appointment, call 304-243-7879.