Starting in October, the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), Reston, Va will establish the annual National Audiology Awareness Month and National Protect Your Hearing Month to raise public awareness of hearing loss and related issues.

Hearing loss affects more than 36 million Americans, and while hearing problems are often associated with the normal aging process, more than half of all hearing-impaired people are younger than 65. With the increased use of personal music players (MP3 players) and earbuds, the number of Americans experiencing hearing loss at a younger age is growing, and hearing loss ranks as third most common US health problem.

"This initiative will expand the Academy’s efforts to educate the public about audiology, hearing loss, noise-induced hearing loss, and the importance of hearing screenings," says M. Patrick Feeney, PhD, president, AAA,  and associate professor and chief of audiology in the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, at the University of Washington.

Although most hearing loss that is caused by nerve damage is permanent, an audiologist can determine the best treatment to improve and enhance communication, which may include hearing aids, assistive listening devices, and/or hearing rehabilitation.

The AAA represents more than 10,000 audiologists and strives to provide quality hearing care services through professional development, education, research, and increased public awareness of hearing and balance disorders.