World Hearing Day is recognized internationally every year on March 3 by raising awareness on ear and hearing care and deafness and hearing loss prevention. This year’s theme is “Hearing Care for All – Screen. Rehabilitate. Communicate”. The theme focuses on advocacy for hearing loss and diseases throughout all life stages, newborn to elderly.
Did you know:
- Hearing loss is the 3rd most common chronic health condition in America, which is more than diabetes or cancer.
- People with hearing loss wait an average of 7 years before seeking medical help. A few reasons why are: stigma, unable to detect warning signs of hearing loss, and cost and access to hearing health services.
- Hearing loss is severely undertreated: Only 1 in 5 people who benefit from a hearing aid actually use one.
Hearing loss prevention is quite simple:
- Use earplugs in noisy environments.
- Keep the volume down when using earbuds or headphones.
- Learn what the warning signs are for hearing loss.
- Have your hearing checked regularly, perhaps at a yearly physical.
- Consult with an audiologist at the earliest sign of hearing loss. Generally, a hearing test is covered by insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare and is the first step to addressing an issue that could worsen without intervention.
In our capacity as a regulatory agency, DHEC serves to license hearing aid specialists. Hearing Aid Specialists (HAS) are healthcare professionals whose job is to measure human hearing, usually adults, with an audiometer specifically to fit, make selections, adapt, or sell hearing aids. An individual would seek services from a hearing aid specialist if they need a hearing test, to purchase hearing aids, and for the programming and maintenance of hearing aids. The distinguishing difference between a hearing aid specialist and an audiologist is that the audiologist diagnoses and treats hearing related issues, and is required to have an advanced degree. An audiologist would be necessary if you’ve noticed changes in your hearing, ringing in your ears, or need assistance with hearing implant programming and aftercare such as cochlear implants. DHEC licenses hearing aid specialists, while the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation’s Board of Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology licenses audiologists. To find a hearing aid specialist near you, search DHEC’s map of licensed health facilities and services here.