Let Me Hear From You
Two Words for October—Prevention and Awareness
By Kris English, PhD
The president of the Military Audiology Association, Vickie Tuten, AuD, recently posed one of the most thought-provoking questions about audiology I’ve heard in a long time—why are only some audiologists dedicated to prevention of hearing loss (HL)? Why doesn’t every audiologist provide earplugs and handouts about noise to every patient, and discuss noise risk at every appointment?
The answer to her question is certainly related to our training. Our antennae go up when we hear certain words during intake, and we always ask new patients about noise exposure. But upon reflection, we’d have to acknowledge that our conventional approach is not especially effective. To ask about noise risk only once implies that noise then becomes a non-issue. We know better! The world is increasingly noisy, and it seems logical that we should discuss noise risk and HL prevention routinely. And our vigilance has a ripple effect: when we consistently alert our patients to the ongoing risks of noise, they become better equipped to encourage family and friends to “Turn It to the Left®” as well.
October is Audiology Awareness Month and we face the daunting challenge of penetrating today’s information overload. However, October is also National Protect Your Hearing Month, and that message coincides with today’s overall trend toward wellness and prevention. Society is now familiar with and open to messages about wellness; it is more ready than ever to remember a consistent message about HL prevention, while associating that message to the profession that values hearing. At this moment in time, our best strategy to increase awareness of audiology is to promote HL prevention.
Dr. Tutin’s questions are spot-on. Do we share an active commitment to HL prevention? Do we include a query about recent noise exposure on our return-visit checklist? Do we place bowls of earplugs in our waiting rooms labeled with a sign to “Take Some?” Do we keep a handful of earplugs in our pockets to hand out during the day? Do we include a brochure on noise and HL with our billing and marketing materials? If we train students, do we prompt them to think “HL prevention” throughout the day?
What will you do to promote the prevention of hearing loss, starting this October, which you haven’t done before? Send your stories, pictures, and press releases to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let me hear from you!
P.S. “Hearing Loss Prevention” is a Super-Track topic at AudiologyNOW!® 2010 in San Diego. You will find a unique opportunity to learn about the latest scientific breakthroughs and treatments—don’t miss it!