What is preventative audiology?

A woman walks into an audiologist’s office for routine screening. She’s a 30-years-old accountant who spends most of her day sitting behind a desk. The doctor mentally notes that she’s carrying some extra weight.

She struggles slightly when asked to hop up on a stool next to the machine. And an overwhelming floral aroma follows her. She sprayed something to cover up cigarette smoke.

The doctor asks her about job-related noise exposure. She’s an accountant, so her risk level is low.

After a series of tests, her hearing is fine. The woman leaves the office.

25 Years Later

Some years later, a 55YO woman shows up in my practice. She’s struggling to understand speech even in a quiet room.

She mentions that she was here many years ago, so I find her old chart. She’s right. She visited our practice 25 years ago. Her hearing was excellent.

She didn’t have a noisy job. We saw no red flags at the time. But now here she is in my office. I can fit her for a hearing aid to improve her hearing. But I can’t give her hearing back.

This brings to light how preventative audiology has changed in the past 25 years. We know more about what causes age-related hearing loss and how hearing loss progresses. The red flags were there. We just didn’t know about them yet.

Had we known what we know now, I would have worked with this woman to keep her hearing.

I would have been able to share with her how lifestyle factors beyond noise exposure may increase risk of developing hearing loss. Some of these include:

  • Taking certain prescription, OTC, and street drugs
  • Diabetes and heart disease
  • Lack of exercise
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Smoking

A Preventative Audiology Visit Today

Noise exposure is still the number one factor. If you’re attending loud concerts, using heavy machinery, or hunting without ear protection, you’re increasing your risk. But studies now show that other factors influence how quickly, or if, you lose your hearing.

So a preventative audiology visit today goes beyond checking the hearing or fitting someone for a hearing aid. I help my patients understand how lifestyle factors may impact their hearing as they age. We can then work together to reduce the risks and keep their hearing.

It may seem like your primary care physician would assess your hearing as part of your annual exam. But this rarely happens.

It’s vital that you get a preventative audiology screening to assess your risk and track how your hearing changes as you age, so you can keep your hearing. Please don’t wait until you’re in your 60s and struggling to hear in a quiet room. Call my office to schedule a preventative appointment today.

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