Audiology is a health science and a rehabilitative health care profession. Audiologists study similar University Programs as other professionals we know such as Speech-Language Pathologists and Occupational Therapists. However, their day to day tasks are more like those of an Optometrist.
Audiologists evaluate everything related to your ear and your hearing. They gather information, take measurements, counsel, and recommend appropriate rehabilitative treatment plans. There are a variety of solutions available to treat hearing, so the Audiologist is tasked to break that down and recommend the appropriate solutions for you.
It takes about 6 years to become an Audiologist, starting with a 4-year undergrad, followed by a 2-3-year Audiology Master’s Degree, which is only offered in five Universities in Canada. Audiologists study topics such as Anatomy, Physiology, Physics, Acoustics and Perceptions of the Auditory System, Rehabilitation, Counselling and much more! Audiologists in Ontario are regulated under CASLPO (College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario), and are required to keep up to date with the new advances in technology and the current research findings. Some Audiologists also choose to complete a Clinical National Exam, to add to their qualifications.
Why is Hearing Health So Important?
The general population cares more and more about their health and well-being. When you start to see blurry, you typically call your Optometrist. If you get injured, you may contact your Physiotherapist. People want to address health issues quickly! We have even seen this wave of interest in keeping our brains active by doing sudokus, cross-word puzzles and taking the time to read a book!
The question is: why is it that we don’t believe that addressing hearing loss can also help with keeping us healthy, and furthermore, keeping our brain active?
Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent invisible disabilities. Because it usually occurs gradually, people don’t always see it as a major health concern. It is even very common for friends and family to be the first to notice hearing loss in their loved ones. That said, research shows that it takes an average of 7 years for someone to seek help from the time they start experiencing hearing difficulties! This is almost a decade of not hearing sounds and speech properly, which can create elements of stress in the body!
Studies have shown that untreated hearing loss can have a negative impact on people such as cause social isolation, frustration, irritability, stress, loneliness, embarrassment, depression and cognitive declined. These findings certainly show that not treating hearing loss can contribute negatively to our overall health and well-being.
As for the impact on the brain, when you have hearing loss, the hearing nerve and the brain get less stimulation than they used to. Because of this, they can become weak, just like a muscle would when it doesn’t get enough exercise. This can have an impact on our ability to hear speech sounds clearly. Things become a bit more distorted than they used to be, which can be harder for the Audiologist treat, even with the use of hearing aids. Essentially, with hearing loss and the brain, the expression “if you don’t use it, you lose it”, can apply!
These are some of the reasons why we encourage people to treat their hearing loss sooner rather than later. Studies have even shown that within just 3 months of wearing hearing aids, 90% of people report significant improvements in their quality of life, as well as in their overall well-being. They have even specifically noted improvements in their physical health, cognitive health and self-esteem, as well as a reduction in anxiety, more independence, a better social life, and overall improvements in communications and relationships.
There really is no need to put your body through the stress of living with a hearing loss. Do your health and your brain a favour and don’t wait a decade to address your hearing difficulties. Don’t be afraid to take the step today! Your Audiologist will guide you in the right direction to help you find the right solution, and help improve your overall health!