May is Better Hearing Month, a time to increase awareness of how common hearing loss is, who can treat it, and why treatment is so important. The following facts from the American Academy of Audiology show how common hearing loss, dizziness and related issues are.
- Approximately 38 million Americans report having some degree of hearing loss.
- The rate for hearing loss by age increases the most after 65 years of age. Around one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing.
- Individuals who reported having moderate or worse untreated hearing loss were more likely to use mental health services for psychosocial disorders such as depression than their peers with hearing loss who wear hearing aids.
- There was a significant decline in perceptions of loneliness following four to six weeks of hearing aid use.
- Mild untreated hearing loss doubles dementia risk; moderate hearing loss triples the risk; and people with a severe hearing impairment are five times more likely to develop dementia.
- Hearing loss treatment improves symptoms of those living with cognitive impairment. One study showed that treating hearing loss through hearing aids was the largest factor that protected participants from cognitive decline.
- Those who reported having moderate untreated hearing loss were 70% more likely to have an accidental injury at work or at leisure. Even mild untreated hearing loss results in a three times greater risk of falls.
- Untreated hearing loss is linked to an increased risk for 30-day hospital readmission, increased risk of emergency department visits, and longer hospital stays.
- Untreated hearing loss is associated with 46% higher total health care costs over a 10-year period.
- Those with hearing loss earn 72 to 78% of the wages of people with no hearing loss, depending on age.
- Better hearing has a positive effect on the U.S. economy. The untreated hearing loss population produces around $133 billion per year in health and unemployment costs.
- In a survey of over 3,000 with hearing difficulty, 38% of individuals with hearing difficulty reported having a hearing aid.
- Eight in 10 who chose to treat their hearing loss report life-changing results and 91% of hearing aid owners say they are satisfied with their hearing professional.
Diagnosing and Treating Hearing Loss
So, who is qualified to diagnose and treat hearing loss? There are three different types of professionals available for different aspects of hearing health and treatment—audiologists, ear, nose and throat physicians, and hearing instrument specialists/hearing aid dispensers.
Associated Audiologists is staffed by doctoral-level audiologists, degreed professional who specialize in the diagnosis and non-medical treatment of hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders. Audiologists receive extensive education in hearing and balance disorders. They have earned a doctoral degree, indicated by the credentials Au.D., (Doctor of Audiology—clinical degree); or Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy—research and/or clinical research degree).
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, audiologists are qualified to:
- Evaluate and treat hearing, balance, and tinnitus disorders.
- Select and custom-fit hearing aids and assistive technology.
- Evaluate and treat dizziness and balance problems.
- Screen individuals to identify possible hearing disorders. Testing can confirm if a hearing loss is present and determine the kind and degree of loss.
- Explain how to protect hearing from the effects of noise.
- Advise people about how to treat and cope with ringing in the ears or tinnitus.
In addition, audiologists are knowledgeable regarding the hundreds of types and styles of hearing aids available, and make recommendations based on your type of hearing loss, lifestyle and budget. The Associated Audiologists team uses verification equipment, such as real-ear measurements, to check that your prescription hearing aids are programmed for your specific hearing loss and are working at peak performance.
All of these are important issues that can impact your satisfaction with hearing aids. An audiologist also can make recommendations for assistive hearing technology to help you hear better in challenging listening situations, such as in meetings, on the phone, or in noisy restaurants.
All members of the Associated Audiologists team belong to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the Academy of Doctors of Audiology. They uphold the professional codes of ethics of these organizations and keep their patients’ best interests at the forefront of all they do.
As indicated above, the risks of untreated hearing loss are significant. If you or a loved one have concerns about hearing loss, what are you waiting for? Get help from an audiologist today.