LONDON — Adults prioritize treatment for everyday health complaints like colds, rashes, aches and pains — but are a lot less likely to seek professional help when it comes to hearing loss. A poll of 2,000 consumers finds 65 percent have never had a routine hearing test. However, 68 percent say they’ve experienced symptoms which could indicate they are struggling to hear.
These symptoms include ringing in the ears (31%), mishearing what others are saying (28%), and asking people to repeat themselves on a regular basis (23%). Four in five say they would seek treatment within a few weeks or sooner for ailments with flu-like symptoms, aches and pains, or lumps and rashes.
When researchers replaced these “visible symptoms” with hearing loss, however, the number of people who would seek treatment within a few weeks or sooner dropped to 55 percent. Meanwhile, 49 percent of all adults worry about losing their hearing and 36 percent admit they would pretend it’s completely normal if they were to experience problems.
For World Hearing Day (Friday, March 3), Specsavers, which commissioned the research, is encouraging the public to prioritize hearing health. This follows a recent report by the World Health Organization, which states that 60 percent of hearing problems can be addressed through primary care.
“The appearance of a red rash, lumps, bumps, or blurred vision are all aliments where we’d seek immediate tests and medical advice,” says general practitioner and TV doctor, Dr. Zoe Williams, who has partnered with eyecare and audiology experts, in a statement.
“However, people who have hearing loss don’t always seek support straight away, and unfortunately, the longer you leave hearing issues the worse they can become. Hearing tests are an essential part of our overall health maintenance, and hearing health is integral within primary care. Luckily, audiologists form part of this primary care setting and can address a range of hearing problems you may be experiencing quickly and easily.”
Of the reasons individuals give for not getting a hearing test, 39 percent think their symptoms of hearing loss aren’t a problem they need to worry about. One in five (19%) think they’re overreacting and 13 percent think they’re too young to experience hearing loss.
Another 28 percent say they were unaware the longer they wait to get their hearing problems sorted out, the worse their hearing could get. However, the study, carried out through OnePoll, finds 81 percent would book a hearing test sooner if they knew they could be at risk of losing their hearing entirely.
“Hearing loss affects millions of people in the UK, and we know that many people struggle for years before they take any action,” says Gordon Harrison, Specsavers’ chief audiologist.
“It is important to get your hearing checked if you notice any changes in your hearing, regardless of your age. Most of the time hearing loss happens gradually, making it harder to notice if you’re not hearing as well as you used to.”
“The best thing to do is to make sure that you never listen to your music above 60 percent volume, give your ears regular breaks, and when you know you’re going to be surrounded by loud noise make sure to take hearing protection with you,” Harrison concludes. “Prevention is always best, so if you do notice any changes in your hearing, make sure you seek expert help as soon as possible.”
Ailments Adults Are More Likely to Seek Treatment For Over Their Hearing:
- A lump
- A persistent cough
- Blurred vision
- A rash
- Teeth problems
- Feeling faint
- Aches and pains
- Feeling sick
- A cold
72Point writer Francesca Tuckey contributed to this report.