(BPT) - 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 screening, 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 www.betterhearing.org/news/how-talk-your-doctor-about-hearing-loss.
The flipbook provides pertinent information to help consumers start the discussion, which is especially important because research shows that patients are more likely to initiate the conversation 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 conversation on your hearing:
1.Hearing loss has been linked to other significant health issues. In recent 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 hearing aids say it has helped their general ability to communicate, participate in group activities and 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 optimistic, feel engaged in life, get more pleasure in doing things, have a strong social network and are more likely to 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 income loss by 90 to 100 percent for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65 to 77 percent for those with severe to moderate hearing loss. People with untreated hearing loss can lose as much as $30,000 in income annually, the BHI research found. Health care spending may also be affected. For instance, middle-aged adults (55-64) with diagnosed hearing loss had substantially higher health care costs, according to a study published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, indicating that hearing loss may place patients at risk for increased health care use and costs. The study authors suggested that early, successful intervention may prevent future hearing-related disabilities and decreased quality of life.
For more information on hearing loss, visit BetterHearing.org.