Many people with hearing loss aren’t actually aware they have one. An article which compared subjective feedback with objective audiometric findings found that 1 in 3 people over 50 were not aware they have hearing loss.1
In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 2.5 billion people worldwide or 1 in 4 will be living with some degree of hearing loss by 2050.2
Millions of these people will require access to hearing care and other rehabilitation services, yet some may not be aware or want to admit they have trouble hearing and will leave the issue unchecked and untreated.
As a result, the WHO has highlighted an urgent need to put measures in place to help with the early identification of hearing difficulties. The priority being to increase the service provision at a community level and better integrate with primary care systems.2
The impact of inaccessible hearing screening
The current route of someone reporting an issue to their GP, through to having hearing loss identified, to then accessing rehabilitation, is slow and cumbersome, and could be a barrier for many when it comes to seeking assistance with their hearing function.3
If hearing screening was made more readily available, people could get checked more frequently and identify hearing loss earlier, leading to faster intervention and support.
A recent study by Dr Tsimpada of Liverpool University, England reported that there are vast inequalities in services providing hearing healthcare across the UK.4
The study also identified that different levels of exposure to socio-economic and lifestyle factors lead to variations in hearing health across geographies and that regional patterns and trends in hearing loss support the argument that the increase of hearing loss is not always ‘age-related’ and therefore could be a preventable lifestyle-related condition.5
The findings highlight the need for a stronger health policy response, including more accessible screening options.
The necessity for health checks and early intervention
Regular health checks and early intervention are key, as they can relieve the situation and potentially prevent or lessen any long-term effects.
General health screening is more commonplace within countries like the USA, with the aim of detecting disease and risk factors for disease, helping to reduce overall morbidity and mortality.
For most adults, depending on age, doctors will recommend a screening interval that includes regular physical exams, body mass index (BMI), skin checks, cholesterol, blood pressure, eye exams and more.
All these tests are essential indicators towards someone’s overall health, providing intervention and guidance on any changes that need to be made. Yet, hearing health still isn’t part of the conversation, and this is something that needs to change.
The impact of hearing loss on mental wellbeing
One-third of people above 65 years old are affected by significant hearing loss, yet it remains a highly underdiagnosed and untreated chronic health condition.4 This is concerning, as research shows that hearing loss can have an impact on an individuals' mental wellbeing too.
It’s been identified that the use of hearing aids in people with hearing loss reduces the risk of depression.5 One possible explanation for this being that hearing aids probably act as a support measure and aid the most vulnerable people who already lack life opportunities compared to the more affluent, so it helps them to take more control back and keep participating in society.6
This also supports the premise that increasing the treatment rate for hearing loss could be one effective strategy for reducing depression. Given the high prevalence of hearing loss in older age, and its low treatment levels, early intervention requires early identification of hearing loss that could mitigate the negative impact it has on psychosocial wellbeing and quality of life.6
The value of hearing health checks in the community
Through partnering with local businesses, leading Hearing Care Practitioners (HCPs) can improve access and awareness of hearing healthcare in their local community. Something that could significantly benefit everyone, including those in areas where there is currently a higher degree of hearing loss being left untreated.
Community health screening has shown to have a positive impact on many associated health issues, such as reducing the risk of dementia, balance issues and human relationships / connections.
Availability of such a service will empower people to take routine tests as and when they want or feel the need, while also increasing awareness and accessibility of routine hearing screening.
By expanding the availability of screening to a wider population, HCPs can not only raise awareness of the benefits of good hearing health but foster a better quality of life for their local community through regular hearing screening.
An effective audiometry screening solution
Amplivox BEEP is an affordable, reliable, and simple way to test people’s hearing, designed to enable providers to support their local community, easily and effectively.
The solution provides efficient front of house and community location screening, enabling audiologists, hearing aid retailers and other healthcare service providers such as opticians or pharmacists to identify and prioritise those with potential hearing issues.
Used either guided or unattended, Amplivox BEEP is the ideal solution for client outreach, acquisition, and next-step rehabilitation.
For more information about our screening audiometry solution please visit our Amplivox BEEP webpage, contact our customer support team on +44 (0)1865 880 846 or email.
1Dalia Tsimpida, PhD, CPsychol, AFBPsS, FHEAEvangelos (Evan) Kontopantelis, PhD.Darren Ashcroft, BPharm, MSc, PhD, FRPharmSMaria Panagioti, PhD. University of Manchester. 1 in 3 over-50s unaware they have hearing loss. Accessed at: https://research.manchester.ac.uk/en/clippings/daily-express-1-in-3-over-50s-unaware-they-have-hearing-loss
2World Health Organization. (2nd March 2021) WHO, 1 in 4 people projected to have hearing problems by 2050, Accessed at: https://www.who.int/news/item/02-03-2021-who-1-in-4-people-projected-to-have-hearing-problems-by-2050
3British Medical Association. (August 2023) NHS backlog data analysis. Accessed at: https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/nhs-delivery-and-workforce/pressures/nhs-backlog-data-analysis
4Tsimpida, D., Kontopantelis, E., Ashcroft, D.M. et al. (2022) The dynamic relationship between hearing loss, quality of life, socioeconomic position and depression and the impact of hearing aids: answers from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 57, 353–362. Accessed at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00127-021-02155-0
5BMC Geriatrics. (15th Dec 2020) Regional patterns and trends of hearing loss in England: evidence from the English longitudinal study of ageing (ELSA) and implications for health policy. Accessed at: https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-020-01945-6
6University of Manchester. (August 2021) Hearing loss could be cause of depression in older people. Accessed at: https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/hearing-loss-could-be-cause-of-depression-in-older-people
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Who Are Audiologists, and What Do They Do? Accessed at: https://www.asha.org/public/who-are-audiologists
JAMA Network. (August 2020) Comparison of Self-reported Measures of Hearing With an Objective Audiometric Measure in Adults in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Accessed at: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2769843#:~:text=Findings%20In%20this%20cross%2Dsectional,by%20the%20self%2Dreported%20measures.