October is National Audiology Awareness Month. Established by the American Academy of Audiology in 2008, it provides an opportunity to raise public awareness of audiology and the importance of wearing hearing protection to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.
Hearing loss is a global epidemic that affects an estimated 48 million Americans. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 900 million people around the world—about 10 percent of the population—will experience disabling hearing loss by the year 2050. Increased awareness is key to finding solutions.
Unfortunately, only about 20 percent of people with hearing loss seek treatment. Some aren’t even aware of their condition; hearing loss usually develops gradually, making it difficult to detect. Others fear they won’t be able to find an adequate treatment solution or believe that a decline in hearing is simply an unavoidable side effect of aging. Untreated hearing loss can result in a variety of serious health complications and should never be ignored.
Paying attention to hearing issues is even more important while we battle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals with hearing loss are finding it more difficult than ever to communicate in these uncertain times. Face masks are essential, but for the deaf and hard of hearing who rely on lip-reading, they present additional obstacles to everyday life.
Hearing health should not be neglected during the pandemic. Those with hearing loss should continue to wear their hearing devices in order to better follow conversations; they can help bridge that six-foot gap pretty effectively. It’s also important to continue to engage with audiologists; fear of clinical settings is understandable during this crisis, but hearing ability changes over time, and any decline should be addressed as early as possible.
Combined with novel telehealth options—the convergence of audio and video-based, remote health care—that allows for both practice and patient to collaborate and develop strategies safely and from afar, staying on top of your hearing care strategy is, in some ways, actually more accessible than ever.
 American Academy of Audiology. (2020, May 14). October Is National Audiology Awareness Month. Retrieved July 28, 2020, from https://www.audiology.org/publications-resources/consumer-information/october
 Lin FR, Niparko JK, Ferrucci L. Hearing loss prevalence in the United States. Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(20):1851–3.
 World Health Organization. (n.d.). Deafness and hearing loss. Retrieved July 28, 2020, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/deafness-and-hearing-loss
 Davis, A., Smith, P., Ferguson, M., Stephens, D., & Gianopoulos, I. (2007). Acceptability, benefit and costs of early screening for hearing disability: A study of potential screening tests and models. Health Technology Assessment, 11,1–294.