Physician Partner Resources
On Hearing Loss and Overall Health
We talk a lot nowadays about “preventive medicine”— and well we should. It makes a lot of sense for all of us, as individuals and as communities, to stop illness from happening rather than to always be dealing with its consequences. As our understanding of wellness and staying well has progressed over time, we’ve learned something interesting about hearing: it’s essential to good health.
A 2013 article on the connection between hearing loss and health problems among older adults found that only 39% of people with hearing loss reported excellent health; among participants without hearing loss, 68% reported excellent health.
Even with research like that available, another study found that 60% of medical practitioners who are in a position to give audiology referrals to older hearing loss patient were unlikely to do; they agreed with a statement that called hearing loss “a normal part of aging that does not require treatment.”
That mindset is unfortunate, given recent research from Johns Hopkins indicating that hearing loss may very well have “a profound detrimental effect on older people’s physical and mental well-being.” Respected researcher, Frank Lin, who headed up the study, said that their results “underscore why hearing loss should not be considered an inconsequential part of aging, but an important issue for public health.”
Please, make audiology referrals a regular part of your routine for patient check-ups. Baseline hearing assessments, and regular testing against those results over time, are an excellent and useful addition to other more traditional types of screening.