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Over 50? Resolve to Check Your Hearing

Americans Agree Hearing Checks Are Important, But New Survey Also Highlights Challenges

Washington, D.C., Jan. 16, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The beginning of the New Year is the traditional time of the year when we make resolutions about self-improvement. The dawn of a new decade amplifies that tradition. As we consider resolutions in this new year, make sure getting your hearing checked by a hearing care professional is a top priority – especially if you are over 50 years old.

“Like an annual physical, dental or eye exam, a hearing test needs to be part of our routine check-ups.  Good hearing is a key element of being healthy and an important contributor to our overall quality of life,” said Kate Carr, President of the Hearing Industries Association. “It increases social engagement, improves communication, lowers the risk of depression, and is part of healthy aging. Good hearing also is believed to have positive benefits on brain functioning, such as memory, and helps with our overall independence, security, and awareness.”

According to a recent survey of American consumers, fifty-four percent of those surveyed view hearing loss as a serious condition while fifty-three percent of American adults either know someone who is affected by hearing loss or know someone who wears hearing aids. Yet, for seventy-nine percent of those surveyed it has been a year or more since they have had a hearing test. Of that group:

  • 23% said they had never had a test;
  • 21% said it had been more than 10 years ago;
  • 14% said it was between 5 and 10 years;
  • 21% said it was more than a year ago, but less than the 5 years;
  • While only 20% said they had had a hearing test within the last year.

“This points out the challenge, while most Americans view hearing loss as a serious health issue, not enough are doing something about it,” Thomas A. Powers, PhD pointed out.As hearing becomes more difficult, your brain has to work harder to register and comprehend what you’re listening to. This steals energy needed for memory and thinking.

As a medical condition, hearing loss is a significant issue in the US:

  • An estimated 38 million American have some form of hearing loss;1
  • Hearing loss can occur as a result of aging, noise exposure, medical treatment, injury, or genetics;2
  • Hearing loss is associated with higher rates of isolation, depression, dementia, and falls that require hospitalization;3
  • Mild hearing loss doubles the risk of dementia, moderate loss triples the risk, and those with severe loss are 5 times more likely to develop dementia;4
  • Over 11% of those with untreated hearing loss suffer from depression;5
  • Adults with untreated hearing loss are 3 times more likely to have memory and balance issues;6,7
  • There are 50% more accidental injuries, such as falls, for people with hearing loss.8

Yet hearing loss is one of the most widespread and under-treated conditions in the US:

  • One in ten individuals report having hearing difficulty;
  • Americans wait on average 4 to 5 years after noticing hearing difficulty to see a hearing care professional;
  • One in 5 U.S. teenagers now suffer from some type of hearing loss;9
  • One in 14 29-40-year-olds already have hearing loss;10
  • Approximately one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing loss and nearly half of those older that 75 have difficulty hearing.

To address the situation, recommendations for getting your hearing checked are consistent. WebMD recommends a hearing test every three years, starting at age 50. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) guidelines state that healthy adults ages 18-40 years old, who are not experiencing any noticeable hearing loss, should have their hearing tested every three to five years while annual exams are recommended for all adults beginning at age 60.

ASHA also points out that noise-induced hearing loss is very common and affects individuals of all ages. Those who are frequently exposed to loud noises have a higher risk of suffering permanent damage to their hearing. People who work in noisy environments (e.g., construction and manufacturing), regularly participate in noisy activities (concerts, hunting, riding motorcycles) or are employed in professions where sudden loud noises are common – such as law enforcement and the military – should have their hearing checked annually.

The good news is that the treatment for most hearing losses are hearing aids and the technology is rapidly evolving.  Today’s hearing aids are designed for all-day wear with features including:

  • Direct streaming for calls and audio to Bluetooth hearing aids;
  • Enhanced sounds and volume for media and TV;
  • Elimination of feedback and noise reduction, resulting in better hearing in noisy environments;
  • Unlike hearables, hearing aids can we worn comfortably all day;
  • Rechargeable batteries that can be charged overnight;
  • Help relieve tinnitus (a condition that causes a ringing or buzzing sound);
  • Some hearing aids can help detect accidental falls and alert emergency services.

Carr concluded, “Hearing can be one of those things we take for granted until something happens and then we realize its importance to our lives. The better strategy is to act now, before there is a problem.”

About Hearing Industries Association (HIA)

HIA is a forum for the companies that manufacture and distribute hearing aids, components and supplies for the hearing aid industry. Our mission is to be the trusted voice on hearing health care for product innovation, public policy, patient safety and education.

http://www.betterhearing.org

 

Sources:

1 “How Many People Have Hearing Loss in the United States”, Johns Hopkins Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health, https://www.jhucochlearcenter.org/how-many-people-have-hearing-loss-united-states.html

2 “Hearing Loss & Tinnitus Statistics”, Hearing Health Foundation, https://hearinghealthfoundation.org/hearing-loss-tinnitus-statistics

3-4 “The Hidden Risks of Hearing Loss”, Johns Hopkins Medicine, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-hidden-risks-of-hearing-loss

5  “NIDCD researchers find strong link between hearing loss and depression in adults”, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), March 2014, https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/news/2014/nidcd-researchers-find-strong-link-between-hearing-loss-and-depression-adults

6 “Hearing Loss and Dementia Linked in Study”, Johns Hopkins Medicine, February 2011, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_and_dementia_linked_in_study

7 “Hearing Loss Linked to Three-Fold Risk of Falling”, Johns Hopkins Medicine, February 2012, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_linked_to_three_fold_risk_of_falling

8 JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, March 2018, bit.ly/2HYfLD4

9 “Change in prevalence of hearing loss in US adolescents”, JAMA, 2010, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/186427

10 Introduction to Communication Sciences and Disorders: The Scientific Basis of Clinical Practice, Weismer, Gary and Brown, David K., Plural Publishing Inc., 2021

11 “Age Related Hearing Loss”, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), March 2016

Lindsay Robinson
Hearing Industries Association
2029750905
lrobinson@hearing.org