October is National Audiologist Awareness Month and is also similarly named National Protect Your Hearing Month.
Forget what you currently know about hearing aids and audiology up to now. This article is designed to show you that better hearing is at your fingertips, and a Doctor of Audiology should be your first step toward that goal.
Audiologists are the primary health-care professionals who evaluate, diagnose, treat, and manage hearing loss and balance disorders in adults and children. They prescribe, fit, and dispense hearing aids and other amplification and hearing assistance technologies, including cochlear implants. In addition, audiologists can design and implement hearing conservation programs and newborn hearing screening programs. Audiologists provide hearing rehabilitation training such as auditory training and listening skills improvement. Audiologists specialize in assessing and treating individuals, especially children, with central auditory processing disorders. One often overlooked aspect of the scope of practice involves assessing and treating individuals with tinnitus (noise in the ear, such as ringing).
What is the difference between an Audiologist and Hearing Aid Dispenser?
It is important to understand the difference between an Audiologist and a Hearing aid dispenser/specialist. In many cases, an Audiologist does dispense hearing aids much like the Hearing aid dispenser or specialist, along with many other roles within the audiologist’s scope of practice, but their education is vastly different. Hearing aid dispensers/specialists need only a High School education and to pass a written or practical test. On the other hand, all Audiologists need at least a Masters or Arts or Science in the field of hearing and science to practice. Many audiologists today pursue the Doctor of Audiology degree, which, in total involves at least eight total years of education. Moreover, Audiologists must pass a tough written test to obtain a certificate of clinical competence (CCC-A) as well as state written and practical exams (in most states). Furthermore, Audiologists must have one year clinical supervised fellowship year. To sum it up, an Audiologist is much more experienced and educated for your hearing problems.
A recent study by Larry Humes, a distinguished professor in the Dept. Of Speech and Hearing Science at Indiana University, has shown that consumers are more likely to follow through with purchasing hearing aids and are more likely to report satisfaction with their aids when an audiologist following best practices is involved in the process.
Hearing Loss and Hearing Aid Facts:
The topics of hearing loss and hearing aids are already confusing enough for many individuals. Adding to the confusion is a great deal of misinformation about hearing loss and hearing aids. To help you to understand it all, here are a few facts about hearing loss and hearing aids.
Young people may be hearing impaired too! According to the Better Hearing Institute, the majority (65%) of people with hearing loss are younger than age 65. An estimated 1 in 14 Generation X´ers has hearing loss, and at least 1.4 million children have hearing problems.
Hearing loss is the third most common health condition faced by older adults after heart diesase and diabetes, yet unlike these conditions, only 20% of those with hearing loss actually seek treatment. Unfortunately, patients with hearing loss often wait to seek treatment after noticing a problem. In that time, hearing can not only worsen significantly but can contribute to a variety of health issues, safety concerns, and psychological problems. The sooner hearing loss is treated, the more positive the outcome and prognosis.
Only 16% of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss. Your family physician may not realize you have a problem hearing or tinnitus (ringing or roaring in your ears)–both of these conditions are very treatable by an audiologist!
Hearing loss has been linked to a variety of medical, social and cognitive disorders. A new study led by Johns Hopkins researcher Frank Lin suggests that hearing loss may also be a risk factor for another huge public health problem: falls. The study linked hearing loss to a three-fold risk of falling.
Evidence is mounting that hearing loss in older patients is not just a relatively benign condition that, at the worst, leads to frustrated family members who can’t make themselves heard. Research by at least two independent groups has shown a strong association between hearing loss and cognitive decline.
You might have a hearing loss and not even know it. The fact is, you may think that your ability to hear falls within normal limits, but often your hearing can diminish gradually, without you noticing. So if your friends and family frequently complain that they have to repeat everything they say, or if you find yourself continually saying ‘excuse me,’ or you find it hard to distinguish one voice in a crowded room, it is time to get your hearing checked.
Greenbrier Audiology, Inc. has been a vital part of hearing healthcare in our community for nearly 30 years. It was founded by Gary Vandevander and is currently owned by Dr. Laura Stout. Greenbrier Audiology serves West Virginia with three offices, located in Lewisburg, Beckley, and Elkins. Each office has a full-time audiologist on staff to help you with your hearing healthcare needs. Go to the Greenbrier Audiology, Inc. Facebook page to keep up with the most recent updates in research and technology in hearing healthcare. Some of the latest developments—Rechargeable and Bluetooth compatible hearing aids, a new cochlear implant protocol as a Cochlear Network Provider with otologist/neurootologist B. Joseph Touma in Huntington, WV, and an upcoming video series to walk you through the entire hearing testing and hearing aid fitting process. Hearing aid fittings require several follow-up appointments to ensure the hearing aids are best set for the patient. Our skilled audiologists are there to help each step of the way.
Dr. Kristin Shockey is in the Lewisburg office on Dawkins Drive and said, “Many people are hesitant to take that first step to have their hearing tested. At Greenbrier Audiology, Inc., we strive to make the process as comfortable, yet informative as possible. Information is power. I want my patients to feel empowered about their hearing. We offer free, in-office and wear-the-technology-home hearing aid demonstrations for our patients so that they can decide if the prescribed hearing aid fitting really works for their life. This is very empowering for my patients!”
We hope this information has been helpful. If you or someone you know is struggling to hear or is exhibiting signs of a hearing loss, we can help. Call or visit our website at www.greenbrieraudiology.com today!