Identifying Unrecognized Hearing Loss

Presbycusis, age-related hearing loss, is a common health condition in adults over the age of 50. This acquired hearing loss can have consequences, including communication problems, social isolation, depression, and overall diminished quality of life. Although presbycusis is prevalent, it often goes unrecognized due to the slow and gradual onset of the disorder. To complicate matters, a person who is not aware of their hearing loss will usually not mention it to a healthcare provider, and early intervention is key to successful treatment of hearing loss. It is accurate that much research exists concerning hearing loss that is identified but not treated. However, little information exists concerning people who are unaware of their hearing loss.

The Study

Examining the characteristics that differentiate adults with unrecognized hearing loss from those people with recognized hearing loss and those with normal hearing is the focus of a new research study. The research team performed their research during a review of verbal memory among adults with hearing loss. For comparison, the team involved older adults who presented with normal hearing. Every participant in the study completed a hearing screening. The screening identified a large group of participants who self-reported normal hearing but actually did have hearing loss. While the group with hearing loss was excluded from this original study, it encouraged the researchers to want to learn more about people with unrecognized hearing loss. The researchers feel that this understanding will improve the identification of people who are the least likely to seek treatment for hearing loss.

Implications For Clinical Practice

Hearing screenings are crucial for the detection of hearing loss in older adults. Unfortunately, the method used, and the effectiveness of the screenings vary significantly. Practices such as questionnaires and self-reporting can be unreliable as many people with hearing loss deny their disorder upon questioning.
Educational materials regarding hearing screening referrals to audiology services can promote early identification and intervention for those people with age-related hearing loss. It is critical to know that a patient’s denial of a hearing problem should not impede the need for a hearing screening or assessment.
The research team feels that additional research should focus on education about hearing screening that focuses on patients who deny hearing loss. The expectation is that this will increase the likelihood of these patients following up with assessments and interventions. By highlighting the importance of early intervention and prevention, patients who deny hearing loss may be motivated to take action. It is also vital to include the patient’s family members in discussions about hearing interventions.

The Importance Of A Hearing Screening

It is essential to get your hearing tested at any age, whether you have symptoms of hearing loss or not. Regular hearing testing with a hearing healthcare professional can detect hearing problems of which you may be unaware. A hearing healthcare professional can diagnose and care for the underlying causes of your hearing loss early, enabling you to live a more fulfilling life. Make an appointment today.


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