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Advocates recognize statewide Better Hearing and Speech Month

Girl listening with her hand on an ear
Vladimir Voronin - stock.adobe.c
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Girl listening with her hand on an ear

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month in Kentucky, and advocates are asking Kentuckians to get their hearing checked.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say hearing loss is the third most common chronic disease in the U.S. It affects more than 700,000 Kentuckians.

Signs of hearing loss include difficulty following conversations or in noisy environments, ringing in the ears and not responding to spoken words.

Anita Dowd is the executive director of the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. She says if hearing loss is left untreated, it can lead to problems with mental health and personal relationships, career difficulties and cognitive decline.

“People start to withdraw and have less exposure to the world around them,” Dowd said. “And it's not a good thing because our brain is a muscle, just like the rest of our muscles. If we stop using it, it starts to atrophy.”

The two most common causes of hearing loss are aging and loud noise.

Dowd says some professions can be more susceptible to hearing loss depending on the work environment.

“There are several professions that deal with hearing loss over time,” Dowd said. “Military, construction workers, emergency responders, because they're exposed to the sirens, manufacturing, because of that constant hum of machines.”

Resources on how to reach out to the Commission is available here, or by calling 800-372-2907.

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Shepherd joined WEKU in June 2023 as a staff reporter. He most recently worked for West Virginia Public Broadcasting as General Assignment Reporter. In that role, he collected interviews and captured photos in the northern region of West Virginia. Shepherd holds a master’s degree in Digital Marketing Communication and a bachelor’s in music from West Virginia University.
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