October is National Audiology Awareness Month and National Protect Your Hearing Month, and Dr. Melanie Driscoll and Dr. Kristin Lenz at Eastpoint Audiology are ready to help you improve your hearing. Graduates of the University of Louisville School of Medicine, both audiologists operate their practice under the mission that better hearing leads to a better life.
“No matter what we do in life, everything hinges around communication,” Dr. Driscoll says. “If we can’t hear or we have someone we’re trying to do something with and they can’t hear, then there is a disconnect. Until we can hear each other, we can’t communicate.”
Dr. Driscoll was inspired to enter the field of audiology after a friend’s daughter was born with no hearing and after spending time with a neighbor whose hearing issues negatively impacted his life.
“I wanted to figure out a way to help them,” she says.
Dr. Lenz became an audiologist for similar reasons, and was in part influenced by her mom who is a nurse.
“Communication is huge, and I love my interactions with people,” Dr. Lenz says. “So, when you think about how hard it is for people to miss general communications or the punchline to a joke, it can really take a toll on someone.”
One in five Americans experience hearing loss, and 80 percent of those who have issues do nothing about it. Dr. Driscoll noted that patients often wait years before seeking help and typically only do so after a family member or friend pressures them. Cost is often the biggest hindrance for a person delaying an appointment, along with being afraid of the results.
“There are ways we can help people get hearing aids who need them,” Dr. Driscoll says. “I don’t want anyone to ever think they can’t get the help they need because they don’t have the funds for the cost.”
If a hearing aid is needed, patients have many options. Some audiology practices choose to only work with one or two hearing aid manufacturers, but Eastpoint Audiology works with all of them.
The practice primarily serves the adult and geriatric populations, working with patients who need hearing aids or who have tinnitus (a ringing or buzzing in the ears). The doctors can also do mobile visits for patients living in assisted living facilities to help ease the burden of traveling to appointments.
Dr. Driscoll and Dr. Lenz both recommend everyone go through a hearing test to get a baseline of their condition. Children are screened when entering kindergarten, but there typically isn’t a required screen at any other point in life.
“We have a lot of people who come in who have hearing loss and are under the age of 65,” Dr. Driscoll says. “So, if you think you have hearing loss or someone else has mentioned you might, now is the time to have a baseline audiogram done.”
At the end of the day, both doctors agree that learning about their patients and interacting with them is the best part of their jobs.
“The look on someone’s face when you get their hearing aid in and they hear something they haven’t heard in a long time — even something as trivial as a piece of paper crumpling — that sound gets them so excited,” Dr. Lenz says.
She shared a story of a patient who thought there was an issue with a hearing aid she was recently fitted with, and the doctors discovered the strange sound she was hearing every few minutes was an automatic air freshener in her home. The woman had never heard the noise before and was amazed at how much her hearing had improved.
“It’s so awesome being able to help people, and every single day one of them has a story to tell,” Dr. Lenz says.
The doctors encourage people of all ages to protect their hearing by taking precautions such as wearing hearing protection when mowing the grass, using loud machinery or attending concerts.
Eastpoint Audiology is open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, or to request an appointment, please visit eastpointaudiology.com or call 502-528-3741.