Many of my patients avoid seeking treatment for hearing loss because they are unsure of what is involved in a hearing assessment and, likewise, unaware of the risks associated with untreated hearing loss.
A new study recently published by the JAMA Network has found that relying solely on individuals to self-report their hearing loss (particularly individuals over 50, women, and people living in more deprived areas) is not enough to ensure all those who are experiencing some hearing loss receive the proper treatment.
Essentially, it has been brought to the medical community’s attention that additional measures should be taken to discover whether or not a patient is experiencing a hearing loss, beyond hoping that they themselves will notice.
Just to put this into perspective, the researchers alone found nearly 700 people who had an undiagnosed hearing loss over the course of their study.
Now, the fact that so many people live their lives seemingly without noticing they are experiencing a hearing loss may be very shocking to you. As an audiologist, it is very easy for me to believe that this is the unfortunate truth.
I feel this way (and I know many other hearing care professionals would agree) for a few key reasons. The first being that in most cases, especially with aging, hearing loss is very gradual.
Most people don’t notice their hearing loss because, as it happens over a long period of time, they just slowly adjust to the change without even knowing it. It is sporadic for someone to experience a sudden bout of hearing loss to the point where it is extremely noticeable.
Many people don’t realize they’re experiencing a hearing loss because none of the people around them realize it either.
Many times, friends or family members are the ones to bring possible hearing loss to a person’s attention because communication has become more difficult, or they have noticed them reacting differently to noises than they used to.
Even if the person themselves thinks there may be an issue with their hearing, if no one around them seems to notice, they may believe it’s not that big of a deal.
Lastly, as of right now, routine hearing exams for those who are older are not a very common practice. Issues with hearing loss are often sent to the back burner as the possibility of other health issues that arise with aging becomes the center of attention.
And rightfully so, most general practitioners are more concerned with the possibility of these medical issues because their impact or symptoms may be very severe. So they are certainly worthy of such attention.
However, a simple yearly hearing exam does not take up a lot of time or resources. This study’s findings may help improve a patient’s life significantly by catching hearing loss earlier on or even at all. Even before this study–but especially now–I always highly encourage everyone, regardless of age, to take part in a yearly hearing exam.
Our level of expertise in audiology makes us trusted partners with local physicians who refer patients to us. This is the reason why we have cared for thousands of patients in the San Fernando Valley throughout the past 30 years.
Get in touch today to schedule a hearing assessment by calling (818) 727 7020. Alternatively, if you prefer to address your concerns remotely during this time, please click here to schedule a tele audiology appointment.