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Facts - Audiology at a glance

Audiology is hearing and balance care
Audiology is a hearing health-care specialty, and audiologists are trained to diagnose and treat people with hearing and balance problems.  Audiologists work in private offices, clinics, medical offices and hospitals.

Hearing loss is common

Hearing loss is the third most-common chronic health condition in the United States, affecting 1 out of every 10 people. That's a conservative estimate, as many people needlessly avoid seeking help and may not be included.

By age, Americans with hearing loss include:

Of those with hearing impairment, nearly 95 percent can be helped with hearing aids.

Risk indicators for hearing loss

Delayed speech and language development

Childhood infectious diseases, such as mumps and measles

Recurrent ear infections

Exposure to extreme noise levels such as music, mowers, vacuums, theaters and even loud toys

Concussion and skull fracture

Use of medication that can damage hearing

Allergies

Hearing loss in infants

Hearing loss is the most common birth defect, affecting 3 in every 1000 born in the United States each year. Untreated, hearing loss may affect speech, language and learning.

Infant hearing screening programs are now available in about a third of the states. Of the babies identified with permanent hearing impairments, nearly half were not considered at high risk for hearing loss, signaling the value of newborn screening. When hearing loss is identified by six months of age and treated, children may develop normal language skills.

Common hearing disorders

Balance disorders

Many times inner ear problems cause a person to fall. Falls are the leading cause of injuries in people age 65 and older.

Balance problems, or vertigo, prompt about 6 million U.S. residents to seek care each year. Nearly all balance disorders are caused by inner ear problems, and most patients - more than 85 percent - benefit from treatment.

Audiologists

In providing hearing care, audiologists: