Promoting healthy hearing over the lifespan
Background and Aim: Comorbid conditions and unhealthy lifestyles are risk factors for auditory dysfunction, including age-related hearing loss. With a focus on adults, this paper describes a new approach to hearing health care that aims to prevent or mitigate hearing loss and related disorders, like tinnitus. Accurate diagnosis and effective management of hearing loss is best achieved with a patient-specific test battery that includes sensitive measures of peripheral and central auditory function.
Recent Findings: Within the past decade, peer reviewed research publications confirm the importance of comorbid conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive impairment as risk factors for hearing loss, tinnitus, and auditory processing disorders. Unhealthy lifestyles like poor diet, smoking, and chronic exposure to high intensity sound also contribute importantly to risk for hearing loss and tinnitus. In collaboration with physicians and other health care professionals, audiologists who recognize and address these risk factors for hearing loss have an opportunity to prevent or mitigate hearing loss in adult patients.
Conclusion: The traditional model for hearing health care service delivery relies on a rather outdated and simplistic protocol for evaluating and describing hearing loss, and a technology-focused approach for management. This paper offers an evidence-based rationale for expanding the test battery for diagnosing hearing loss, and a multidisciplinary intervention approach.
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