For more than a decade, October’s designation as Audiology Awareness Month has made it a time to learn more about hearing health and the importance of protecting it.

The month is also meant to highlight the work of audiologists and the ways in which they can address hearing healthcare concerns. These healthcare professionals assess hearing levels, recommend hearing aids, treat tinnitus (ringing in ears) and a host of other audiological services.

There are approximately 37.5 million Americans living with some degree of hearing loss, with half of them being under the age of 65. Hearing loss is the third most common health condition (behind heart disease and diabetes).

Unlike those conditions, only one in five people seek out treatment for their hearing impairment. Even when they do seek treatment, they wait an average of seven to 10 years before visiting an audiologist. Unfortunately, hearing levels can worsen significantly over that time – making treatment tougher.

Untreated hearing loss can affect our health in ways beyond our aural health. Studies have found links between hearing loss and mental illness, depression, social isolation and cognitive decline.

Causes of Hearing Loss

Hearing impairment can be caused by a number of factors, such as:

  • Aging process
  • Medications (those damaging hearing are called “ototoxic”)
  • Ear infections
  • Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL)
  • Head trauma

Knowing When to Seek Help

Because damage can worsen the longer you wait to seek treatment, it’s important to see an audiologist as soon as you notice a change in your hearing. You should seek treatment if you experience any of the following:

  • Trouble following conversation, especially if you’re not facing the person
  • Regularly asking people to repeat themselves
  • Tinnitus – Presence of a ringing, humming or buzzing sound in the ears

For more information about how services available at Audiology & Hearing Services can improve your quality of life, call us at 704-412-7975 or contact us online.

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