Despite millions of adults receiving a hearing loss diagnosis each year, many who suffer from hearing loss go undiagnosed. According to recent research from the University of Manchester published in JAMA Network Open, 33% of adults over 50 with hearing loss never receive a diagnosis. Unfortunately, this isn’t surprising. The statistics of hearing loss are frightening.

Hearing loss is the third most common chronic disease in adults, yet according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), only 20% of patients with hearing loss seek out help. And that’s a problem. Hearing loss has been linked to depression, anxiety, fatigue, and social isolation.

Not being able to communicate with the world around you can put a serious damper on your mental health. For example, the National Council on Aging ran a study on hearing aids. They found that those with hearing loss that refused to seek hearing aid treatment were significantly more likely to have mental health conditions.

So, why is it so easy to miss hearing loss? And what can we do about it?

Hearing Loss: The Invisible Force

Hearing loss is a chronic disease. It’s slow, gradual, invisible, and painless. It takes years for hearing loss to develop, and it often only impacts part of your hearing — not all of it. So, loud sounds may still sound “loud,” and you may have no issues hearing your favorite musician on the radio. But, when you ask your neighbor how their day is going, you might “miss” their reply.

That’s the nature of hearing loss. You may not even know that it’s happening to you. And when you do, you may brush it off. In fact, John Hopkins estimates that the average waiting period between first noticing hearing loss and seeking treatment is ten years.

You may think, “It’s just some earwax,” or “It’s just aging.” But, hearing loss isn’t something you should put aside. It’s a treatable condition. And, if you catch it early enough, you can prevent it from disrupting your life. Luckily, you can just go to your general practitioner if you notice any signs of hearing loss, right?

Hearing Loss is Missed During Standard Medical Screenings

Conservative estimates put the rate of hearing loss at around 40% of adults over 65. Yet, primary care physicians only screen ~12% of that same population for hearing loss. In other words, there’s a good chance that your hearing loss won’t be picked up at your local clinic. If you believe you’re suffering from hearing loss, your doctor isn’t the first place you should look.

Get in touch with a hearing specialist. Find someone who specializes in hearing loss. Otherwise, you may go undiagnosed.

Signs of Hearing Loss

How do you know if you’re suffering from hearing loss? Here are a few obvious symptoms to watch out for:

  • You need to keep the volume on your electronics louder than others.
  • You have to ask people to repeat themselves frequently.
  • You have difficulty hearing conversations, especially if there’s background noise.
  • You can’t hear high-pitched sounds anymore.
  • You have trouble distinguishing between consonants (e.g., “Did you say sit or fit?”)
  • You suffer from tinnitus.

These are some of the more physically-driven symptoms. But there are a few others that are more psychologically-based. However, the following symptoms may also be symptoms of other psychological disorders, so we highly recommend you book an appointment with both your audiologist and your GP if you notice the following:

  • You withdraw from social life and avoid conversations.
  • You try to avoid social settings with crowds.

Get Checked for Hearing Loss Today

Don’t wait for hearing loss to progress. Get treated by a best-in-class hearing specialist today! The sooner you catch your hearing issue, the sooner you can treat it. Contact us to set up an appointment today. Let’s proactively tackle your hearing issues.

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Dr. Kalyn Bradford Au.D.

Dr. Kalyn Bradford is the director of hearing aid services here at Physician's Hearing Care. She completed her externship with Physician's Hearing Care in 2013 and subsequently joined the practice in 2014 after graduating with her doctoral degree in audiology from Louisiana Tech University. She joined PHC as a clinical audiologist, where she performed comprehensive audiological exams and specialized in helping patients to hear better using the latest hearing aid technology available. She has carried that experience into her current role as director of hearing aid services, where she does an excellent job managing the audiologists to ensure that all patients are treated with the best hearing care possible.