Audiologists are healthcare specialists who are trained to help people address hearing loss and other connected disorders. These individuals often work at dedicated hearing centers across the nation, allowing people to gain access to the sort of specialized care they need to hear better.
When people think of the “typical” audiologist patient, they probably picture someone who is relatively older. Considering that, according to today’s top audiologists, the average person loses about 0.5 percent of their hearing per year, this image is not completely unfounded. As you age, the probability of developing hearing issues will significantly increase. However, contrary to this popular conception, a significant portion of audiology patients are much younger than 50. In fact, audiologists regularly work with individuals who are teenagers, children, or even younger.
The notion that only people over the age of 50 need to visit an audiologist has, without a doubt, kept countless people from hearing at their absolute best. Additionally, because hearing issues often develop rather gradually, it can be difficult for people to recognize the moment they’ve gone from hearing normally to having a diagnosable hearing issue.
In this article, we will discuss some of the reasons younger people may need to consider scheduling an appointment with an audiologist. We will also discuss how, exactly, you can determine if visiting a hearing center will be in your best interest. By recognizing the development of a hearing issue early on, you will be much more likely to regain your hearing.
Noise-Related Hearing Loss Affects People of All Ages
Besides old age, hearing loss can be triggered by many different factors. In fact, according to the Chicago Tribune, “Noise, not age, is the leading cause of hearing loss. While hearing problems are common among older folks, damage from everyday noise is growing among younger Americans, including those in their teens and 20s.”
Noise-related hearing loss does not discriminate by age. Individuals who are consistently (or even just occasionally) around loud noises will begin losing their hearing at a much faster rate. Rock concerts, fireworks, and even motorcycles—things that are much more associated with younger people—can all contribute to hearing loss. Additionally, individuals who work in noise-intensive industries, such as aviation or construction, are also more likely to have issues with hearing.
There Are Many Other Non-Age-Related Variables that can Affect Your Hearing
Exposure to noise is just one of the seemingly countless variables that can cause people to develop hearing issues. Viral infections, such as measles or mumps, can cause people to permanently lose some of their hearing. Other diseases, such as diabetes, meningitis, or shingles can also create hearing issues.
Swimmer’s ear—an inner-ear condition often triggered by water entering the ear—is more likely to affect younger people than it is to affect older people (mostly because active swimmers tend to be younger). Even beyond these diseases and other risk factors, many people are simply born with hearing difficulties or even deafness. When this is the case, it will be crucial to find a reliable audiologist in your area.
Tinnitus Affects About 1 in 11 People Under 40
In a study recently published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), it was revealed that tinnitus currently affects approximately 9.8 percent of men under 40 and 8.3 percent of women under 40. Tinnitus is a symptom characterized by the presence of constant ringing, buzzing, or other annoying sounds.
Tinnitus is often the foundation of deeper hearing problems, which is why some of the best hearing centers in the country have begun developing a tinnitus-focused approach to treatment. When left unaddressed, tinnitus can trigger various other issues such as sleeping problems and depression. Because tinnitus affects about 9 percent of young people, it is clear that many of these people could benefit from scheduling an appointment with an audiologist.
Proactive Treatments can Help Improve Sustained Hearing Outcomes
In nearly every sector of the medical community, there has been an ongoing shift towards proactive—rather than reactive—treatment models. By addressing developing issues before they can get worse, the total cost (and complications) of a given treatment can be significantly reduced.
An audiologist can help identify minor hearing issues and help develop a treatment plan that works for you. If, on a scale of 1-10, your hearing has slipped from a 9 to a 7, this may be the beginning of a much deeper problem. Rather than letting this (admittedly subjective) figure slip even further down to a 5, it will likely be a good idea to take immediate action.
Audiologists Currently Offer Many Different Services
One of the reasons why many young people do not schedule an appointment with an audiologist is, frankly, they are not exactly sure what an audiologist does. Most visits to a hearing center will begin with a hearing test. From there, the audiologist will be able to determine whether you are currently suffering from any hearing issues and whether any further treatments will be necessary. In addition to administering hearing tests, audiologists often offer cerumen (earwax) management, hyperacusis treatment, live speech mapping, and tinnitus evaluations.
Should I Schedule an Appointment with an Audiologist?
A visit to an audiologist office will much more pressing for some people than it will be for others. If you are considering scheduling an appointment, begin by asking yourself the following questions:
- Have you experienced any pain in your ear or difficulties hearing things?
- Do you actively suffer from tinnitus?
- Have you been exposed to any of the risk factors that can contribute to hearing loss?
- Has your primary care physician recommended a visit to the audiologist?
- When is the last time you got your hearing checked?
Once you have run through this quick list of questions, the potential necessity of an audiologist should become more apparent.
The idea that only people above 50 can benefit from an audiologist is certainly becoming a thing of the past. Audiologists offer many different services and can help people of all ages. Whether you are suffering from tinnitus, have been exposed to loud noises, or are experiencing any other hearing-related issues, you may want to consider giving your audiologist a call.