Many Americans forgo treatment for hearing loss



Disclosures: Collins does not report any relevant financial information. Healio Primary Care was unable to confirm Chahda’s relevant financial information at the time of publication.

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A new poll released in conjunction with Better Hearing and Speech Month – observed each May – has shown that many adults in the United States enjoy their hearing, but few people with hearing loss seek treatment.

The survey of approximately 2,500 adults commissioned by the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) showed that most adults (80%) think maintaining hearing health is “extremely important” or “very important” for their quality of life. However, only 20% had had a hearing test in the past 5 years.

Reference: American-Speech-Language-Hearing-Association.

Additionally, the survey showed that 51% of respondents said they had hearing problems, but only 11% sought treatment. Although many respondents (42%) said they understood that mild hearing loss can impact day-to-day functioning, 56% said they were unlikely to seek treatment unless they had symptoms “serious”.

The findings, taken in tandem, “reveal an overwhelming disconnect between the high value Americans say they place on their hearing and their low willingness to be treated for any hearing loss,” ASHA said in a press release.

Bria Collins

Bria Collins, AuD, CCC-A, ASHA’s assistant director of professional practice in audiology told Healio Primary Care that patients can wait an average of 7 years before reporting hearing loss to their doctor.

“Doctors and healthcare professionals can help reduce the time it takes to identify a hearing-impaired patient by asking probing questions, such as, ‘Do you have difficulty hearing your family members?’ or ‘Do you feel ringing in your ears?’ she said.

If patients answer “yes” to either question, Collins recommends referring them to an audiologist.

Many causes of hearing loss are preventable, “such as meningitis, rubella, ear infections, exposure to loud sounds in recreational or occupational settings, and the use of ototoxic medications.” Shelly Chadha, MBBS, MS, PhD, The technical lead for the WHO for the prevention of deafness and hearing loss, told Healio Primary Care. She said that “quick and appropriate intervention is the key to success in people with hearing loss”.

Shelly Chadha

“When left untreated, hearing loss has a huge impact on communication, speech and language development in children,” Chadha said. “In adults, untreated hearing loss is associated with cognitive decline, depression, social exclusion and dementia.”

Below, find 10 Healio articles that discuss the latest research and recommendations on hearing loss.

WHO: Nearly one in four people worldwide will have hearing loss by 2050

WHO’s first World Hearing Report estimates that around one in four people – or about 2.5 billion – worldwide will suffer from some type of hearing loss by 2050. Learn more.

CDC: Hearing loss is a major health concern; PCPs play an important role in the prevention, treatment

Investigators found that noise-induced hearing damage was present in one in four adults who reported excellent to good hearing. Additionally, one-third of adults who reported being exposed to work-related noise had hearing damage, as did 20% of adults who reported not being exposed to work-related noise. Read more.

Nearly 75% of teens report being exposed to loud sounds at school

Nearly three in four American teens said they were exposed to loud sounds at school for more than 15 minutes a day, according to findings published in MMWR. Read more.

USPSTF: Insufficient Evidence to Recommend Hearing Loss Screening in Older Adults

The US Task Force on Preventive Services has announced that “the balance of benefits and harms cannot be determined” in screening asymptomatic adults over 50 for hearing loss. Read more.

EHR Alert Dramatically Increases Senior Audiologist Referrals

An electronic health record alert that reminded clinicians to ask patients over the age of 55 about their hearing significantly increased the number of referrals to an audiologist, the data shows. Read more.

Audiometric screening after self-reported hearing loss improves assessments

According to findings published in the Journal of Primary Care and Community Health. Read more.

Q&A: Worsening of tinnitus amid a pandemic in patients with or without COVID-19

According to a study published in Frontiers in public health. Read more.

Hearing loss in diabetes often goes undiscussed

Susan Weiner, MS, RDN, CDN, CDCES, FADCES, spoke with the Director of Practice and Content Development for the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists, Joanne Rinker, MS, RDN, CDCES, LDN, FADCES, on the need to identify and manage hearing loss in diabetes care. Read more.

Opioid-associated hearing loss rare, but should be considered when prescribing

Opioid-associated ototoxicity, or hearing loss, appears to be an adverse event that can occur with the use of various opioids, according to a published study Journal of Medical Toxicology. Read more,

Severe hearing loss associated with neurocognitive deficits in childhood cancer survivors

According to the results of a cross-sectional study published in JAMA Oncology. Read more.


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