Mumbled speech is an inconsiderate habit. It makes communication difficult and leads to frustration, conflict, and completely imagined and embarrassing “guesses” at what you thought someone else said. The funny thing is that your likelihood of being increasingly surrounded by “mumble-ers” depends on several factors including your genetics, noise exposure, and how many birthdays you’ve enjoyed. What? I’ll explain…
You see, increasing mumbles (and resulting grumbles) are actually a major sign of declining hearing acuity. This is because most of us lose hearing very gradually (and sneakily) and often only for certain sounds or pitches. This often happens so slowly, in fact, that hearing is never questioned as being abnormal, yet other people’s speech loses clarity and distinction. Hence, “they mumble.”
For this reason and others, many dismiss signs of hearing trouble for far too long, missing benefit from early diagnosis and treatment.
Catching hearing loss early and the potential causes (e.g., noise exposure, diabetes, ototoxic medications) can lead to counseling and treatment to help slow or prevent progression. Certain conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, put people at greater risk making routine hearing checks even more important.
Hearing loss limits our ability to fully enjoy life; strains relationships; leads to depression, social isolation and other psychosocial disorders; restricts career advancement and earning power; and untreated loss has even been linked to dementia. Definitely not good things to have sneaking up on you! The first step is scheduling a simple audiologic check-up.
Doctors of Audiology (Au.D.) possess specialized education and clinical training for providing comprehensive evaluation, diagnosis, and management of ear and hearing disorders and are the provider of choice (yes, ignore the gimmicky “free” tests and hearing aid sales ads you get from dealers and manufacturers). Your short visit will establish a hearing baseline and answer many questions on how to best manage your hearing and communication health.
If, and when, a person becomes a candidate for an amplification prescription, your audiologist can best provide proper selection, fitting, and rehabilitative adjustments for hearing aids. Hearing aids are quite amazing both in appearance (or lack of) and capability with the advancement of digital processing.
It is never too soon (or late) to start taking good care of your hearing health. Clearing up conversations will translate into a happier life as a Boomer…and Beyond!
Clint Keifer, Au.D., is the owner of Great Lakes