April Showers Bring May Flowers! May: Better Speech & Hearing Month

By Anita Giles MS, CCC-A Audiologist,
Physicians Hearing Center

Have you ever heard of May baskets? In the 1800s, Louisa May Alcott wrote about May Basket Day. In the 1920s, some bold children left a May basket on the White House door for First Lady Grace Coolidge. The May Basket tradition involves leaving a paper basket containing flowers or sweets on someone’s doorstep, knocking on the door, yelling “May Basket!” and running. If the recipient catches the giver, they are entitled to a kiss. I wonder how many “slow” runners were caught.

What memories does the month of May evoke for you? My memories take me back to elementary school for the May Day celebration filled with outdoor games, laughter, and dancing around the Maypole. May 1st is celebrated as a holiday in many different cultures around the world as a day for gathering together to celebrate life and springtime. Spring comes with many sounds—birds singing, children playing, lawnmowers, wind blowing, etc.

May has also been celebrated as Better Speech & Hearing Month with 2023 commemorating 50 years. Communication (Speech & Hearing) disorders are some of the most common conditions in children and adults, affecting tens of millions of people in the United States alone. Left untreated, these disorders can negatively impact a person’s academic, social and career success—as well as overall quality of life. Early treatment can positively impact many communication disorders. However, treatment can be obtained at any age or stage with good results.

More than 28 million Americans live with hearing loss but surprisingly only 20% seek help. Are you one of the millions of Americans who are missing the sounds of spring? Difficulty following conversations, feeling like others are mumbling, needing to increase the TV volume, and avoiding social gatherings are all symptoms of hearing loss. A professional evaluation of your hearing by an audiologist will assess hearing capacity and provide solutions for your hearing health concerns.

Our world is a noisy place. Taking care of your hearing also means protecting your hearing from damage caused by loud noises. Simple steps to accomplish this include limiting the time your ears are exposed to loud noise, putting distance between you and the noise, turning down the volume, and reducing the number of noise sources (TV, appliances) on at the same time. The use of hearing protection devices is necessary and can include earplugs or sound reducing earmuffs.

Back to May Day, a term that can have different meanings depending on the context, a day to celebrate spring or a day to commemorate the struggles and gains of workers in the labor movement. It can also be used as a distress signal for a life-threatening situation. ‘Mayday, Mayday, Mayday” repeated three times is an urgent distress call. It is derived from the French phrase venez m’aider (M’aidez!) meaning “come and help me”. A Mayday situation is one in which a vessel or person is in grave and imminent danger, requiring immediate assistance.

Are your ear vessels sending out a distress signal requesting immediate assistance to help your loss of hearing, reverse your communication disorder and improve your quality of life? Professional evaluation and help are available. Will you “Bring in the May” with healthy hearing?

Lin FR, Niparko JK, Ferrucci L. Hearing loss prevalence in the United States. Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(20):1851–3.

American Academy of Audiology
American Speech Language Hearing Association

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