October is Audiology Awareness month!
by Dr. Clint Keifer, FLT Columnist
Hearing loss currently affects more than 42 million Americans — 1 in every 10 people. Although hearing problems are commonly associated with the normal aging process,more than half of all those with hearing-impairment are younger than 65.With the increased use of personal music players,the number of Americans experiencing hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) at a younger age is growing rapidly. Unfortunately, many do not recognize the first signs of hearing loss or understand who is best qualified to diagnose and treat these conditions.
Hearing loss and tinnitus can be caused by exposure to loud noises, ear infections, trauma, ear disease, harm to the inner ear and eardrum, illness or certain medications, and deterioration due to the normal aging process. In fact, the number one cause of hearing loss is not the aging process, but rather noise exposure.
Making things worse, most hearing loss happens gradually, which decreases one’s awareness that a change is occurring.
Signs of hearing loss include:
· straining to hear
· setting the volume on your radio or TV too loud for others
· ringing in the ears
· misinterpretation of what others have said
· frequent requests for repetition
· gradual disengagement from social interactions
Even slight hearing loss can impact your daily life. Hearing loss is treatable and often preventable, and there is no reason for anyone to have to miss any important sounds of life.
The first step in addressing a hearing problem is a hearing evaluation by an audiologist. Audiology doctors are licensed and clinically experienced health care providers who specialize in the prevention, evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of hearing and balance disorders.
Unfortunately, current law allows for basic, non-diagnostic hearing “testing” to be performed by hearing aid salespeople who are not required to possess any education beyond high school; therefore, you are best served by checking provider credentials before scheduling an appointment to be certain of obtaining comprehensive hearing care from a licensed audiologist.
Although many hearing disorders are permanent, an audiologist can determine the best treatment plan, which may include prescribing measures to help prevent further damage or decline, counseling and rehabilitative strategies, hearing aids, advanced listening devices, and tinnitus therapies.
Take better care of your hearing and see an audiologist this October!