October: A Great Month to Raise Audiology Awareness
If someone were to ask you what the third most common health condition among older adults is, would you know the answer? You’d probably name heart disease or diabetes, and yes – those are the top two. But the third? Hearing loss. Compared to heart disease and diabetes, hearing loss doesn’t receive much attention, yet roughly 36 million Americans report some level of hearing impairment.
Although they’re the largest affected age group, older adults aren’t the only ones represented by this statistic. Children, teens, and young adults can experience hearing loss instantly from very loud noises, or slowly from prolonged exposure to sounds over 85 decibels. Teenagers are showing increasing rates of hearing damage caused from high-volume music devices, and career-aged adults routinely suffer hearing damage from over-exposure to industrial and workplace noise.
Among those 36 million Americans with less than perfect hearing, only 20% seek treatment. While hearing loss isn’t as life threatening as some other health conditions, when left untreated it can profoundly affect a person’s quality of life and lead to other psychological and physical symptoms like depression, anger and frustration, social isolation, and declining mental abilities. This is why it’s important to get your hearing tested regularly and to understand the many ways audiologists can help you with hearing problems.
Taking Action Against the Statistics
In order to raise professional and public awareness of the symptoms and effects of hearing loss, the need to practice hearing protection, and the field of audiology in general, October was designated “Audiology Awareness Month” by the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) starting in 2008. During this month, the organization distributes educational materials, press releases, and media to encourage the 13,000 U.S. audiologists to take action in their own practices and communities. The AAA also reaches out to the public by providing information about audiology and conducting numerous free screenings.
One practical way the student chapter of the Academy, known as the SAA, will reach out to the public is through the event held on October 24th known as “Ask Me About Audiology.” Stationed in neighborhood parks, popular venues and sporting events, students will provide handouts, informational videos, free screenings, and earplugs to the public.
Rather than waiting the average 7-10 years to seek a solution for your hearing problems, the Academy encouraged both young and old to get a hearing screening this month, and then tweet about it using #audiologyawarenessmonth. To find out about local events, search Audiology Awareness Month on Facebook, or visit the AAA’s site and social media pages. There’s no better time to make your hearing a priority.