➼ As a child growing up in Rivesville on the upper Monongahela River, Andrea Yost needed speech therapy. Later, when she had the opportunity in high school to take sign language, her class learned about professions that work with the deaf and hard of hearing. So she went on to college at WVU already knowing she wanted to help people with their hearing. After her undergraduate degree, she did a four-year graduate program—three years of classroom and clinical work and a one-year residency in Martinsburg—to become a doctor of audiology. Yost lives in Morgantown now with her husband and young son, and she helps people with their hearing at Advanced Hearing Center of Morgantown.
On protecting hearing
It’s something we take for granted. There are so many kids listening to loud music with earbuds, people exposed to loud noises. Hearing loss from loud noise is preventable.
Get a baseline test
When you’re an adult, no one tells you to get your hearing tested. But it should be part of overall wellness. If the baseline test is completely normal and you’re in your 20s, 30s, or 40s, you could go every few years after that. But if you’re older and on the borderline, you probably want to do it every year or two.
Hearing is a social skill When people start to have hearing loss, they withdraw from things they once enjoyed—social settings, movies, going to dinner with their spouse. People think they’re not social, but it’s really because they can’t hear what’s being said. A lot of times hearing aids can help them reconnect.
On hearing aids
The technology has come so far in the past 10 years. There are all different styles, depending on your loss, and they’re not as big and noticeable as they used to be. We also have cell phone connectivity—you can stream music or phone calls to your hearing aid.
Use it or lose it
People wait seven to 10 years to actually seek treatment for hearing loss. But if you’re not stimulating the auditory nerve, it deteriorates—the longer you have hearing loss, the more likely that your speech understanding score is going to get worse. We can make it louder for you but, as it gets worse, we can’t always make it clear enough with a hearing aid. So we’d like to have people not wait that long.
photographed by Carla Witt Ford