Smithfield, NC
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October is Audiology Awareness Month

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The American Academy of Audiology declared OCTOBER IS AUDIOLOGY AWARENESS MONTH in 2008.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in 2012, hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition in the United States. It continues to be the third most common compared to a similar study in 1997 by Collins. 

Hearing loss affects many people throughout the world, however, less than 20% actually receive treatment according to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD).  A study from the National Council on Aging in 1999 found higher rates of depression, anxiety and other psycho-social disorders in adults with hearing loss who were not wearing hearing aids. More recently, a 2011 study from Dr. Frank Lin at Johns Hopkins University found a strong link between hearing loss and the risk of developing dementia.

These statistics prove the need for quality hearing healthcare, access to treatment (hearing aids, etc.) and community education on prevention.  That’s where Dr. Coates comes in!

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WHAT IS A DOCTOR OF AUDIOLOGY?

By definition and scope of practice, an audiologist diagnoses, manages and treats hearing loss, tinnitus and balance disorders.  It requires a doctorate degree that includes a 4-year bachelor’s degree then a 4-year doctorate degree with a one year externship/residency. A Doctor of Audiology has your best interest in mind, with a medical background. An audiologist is trained to know the links of hearing loss with other health conditions to better diagnose the cause of hearing loss, as well as collaborate with other physicians and specialists to help prevent future decline in hearing.

Dr. Coates uses research-based testing and treatment but also has a creative mind for coming up with solutions for individual needs, using a patient-centered approach. The most common type of hearing loss is called sensorineural and it is typically permanent.  For that reason, we at Coates Hearing Clinic, P.A. take the time to get to know patients and treat them like family because we want them to continue care with us for years to come.

MY STORY

By Dr. Kathleen Coates

President/Owner of Coates Hearing Clinic, P.A.

How does one choose to be an audiologist?  Growing up, you don’t really think about hearing loss unless you or someone close to you experiences it.  My mother is a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) so I always had a base knowledge of how important hearing was in the process of learning and producing speech.  I wanted to be just like my mother so I actually chose a major in Speech and Hearing Science (the hearing part just came along with it).

There came a time during college when everyone in the class met a fork in the road; I had to decide to continue on to graduate school for either a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology or receive a Doctor of Audiology degree.  Before I could even think about it, I started to notice ringing in my left ear.  When the professor was talking about “tinnitus,” I came to the realization that… not everyone hears that?!

My mother completed a hearing screening on me since she had access to equipment being an SLP. I remember sitting in a quiet room, listening to the soft beeps.  For part of the screening, I was thinking, “Hmm it has been a while since she presented a sound.” I know now that the “long pause” was actually me just missing the sound because I, at age 23, had hearing loss.

I remember smiling. Who smiles when they find out they have hearing loss? My mother was, of course, concerned. I wasn’t sure at the time why I wasn’t worried or concerned but later figured out that I was so interested in what the next steps were and what was causing it to even realize that it was actually happening to me. I moved from the clinician perspective to patient that day.

Since I was in school at The Ohio State University at the time, I was fully tested and evaluated by a very bright, knowledgeable audiologist.  I realized that, “this is what I want to do!”  The cause of my hearing loss is idiopathic, meaning unknown, but an MRI ruled out anything serious. As an audiologist now, I am able to test different technologies and tinnitus treatment as it comes out.

I see my tinnitus as a blessing, leading me to my career and path in life. I plan to “treat” all patients like I would want to be “treated.”

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