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Health Roundup - Three Pressing Reasons to Talk Hearing Health at Your Next Physical Exam

 

December 1, 2020 | View PDF

When was the last time you and your doctor talked about your hearing?

The fact is, only about 3 in 10 adults who had a physical exam in the last year say it included a hearing screen-ing, according to research conducted by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI). That's a shame, because research shows that hearing health is more closely tied to whole health and quality of life than previously understood—which means that diagnosing and treating hearing loss early may be beneficial on many fronts.

To help people take charge of their hearing health, BHI has created a free digital flipbook, "How to Talk to Your Doctor About Hearing Loss," which anyone can view and download at http://www.betterhearing.org/news/how-talk-your-doctor-about-hearing-loss. The flipbook provides pertinent in-formation to help consumers start the discussion, which is especially impor-tant: Research shows that patients are more likely to initiate conversations about hearing than their doctors are.

To go along with the free flipbook, BHI has put together this short list of reasons to speak up and start the con-versation on your hearing:

1. Hearing loss has been linked to other significant health issues. In re-cent years, a flurry of studies has come out showing a link between hearing loss and other health issues, including depression, dementia, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, moderate chronic kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, sleep apnea, obesity, an increased risk of falls, hospitalization and mortality, and cognitive decline. With so much new and emerging research, it makes sense for people to talk with their doctors about their hearing as a routine part of their medical care.

2. Addressing hearing loss often has a positive impact on quality of life. Most people who currently wear hear-ing aids say it has helped their general ability to communicate and participate in group activities as well as improved their overall quality of life, according to BHI research. The research also shows that people with hearing loss who use hearing aids are more likely to be op-timistic, feel engaged in life, get more pleasure in doing things, have a strong social network, and tackle problems actively. Many even say they feel more confident and better about themselves as a result of using hearing aids.

3. Leaving hearing loss untreated may come at a financial cost. Most hearing-aid users in the workforce say it has helped their performance on the job. In fact, BHI research found that using hearing aids reduced the risk of in-come loss by 90-100 percent for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65-77 percent for those with severe to moderate hearing loss. People with un-treated hearing loss can lose as much as$30,000 in income annually, according to the BHI research. Healthcare spending may also be affected. For instance, middle-aged adults (55-64) with diag-nosed hearing loss had substantially higher healthcare costs, according to a study published in JAMA Otolaryn-gology-Head & Neck Surgery, indicating that hearing loss may place patients at risk for increased healthcare use and costs. The study authors suggested that early, successful intervention may pre-vent future hearing-related disabilities and decreased quality of life.

 

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