Why Don’t Doctors Routinely Screen for Hearing Loss?

I am proud to share my hearing loss story and tips on Hearing Tracker

Every year at my annual medical check-up, the doctor checks my height and weight, listens to my heart and takes my blood pressure. She scans my skin for any moles that might have changed, looks at my eyes, my ears and down my throat. She orders blood work, and sometimes even other tests, but never, not once, has she tested my hearing or even asked me about it.

The same goes for my children at their annual check-up. Here the doctor does all of the above, plus a vision screening. But only upon request, will they do a cursory hearing test. Given my genetics, I request one for both of my children. Every year.

The lack of focus on hearing as an important part of one’s health is misguided and needs to change. Hearing loss is associated with many health problems, including depression, heart disease, diabetes, an increased likelihood of falls and even a higher risk of dementia. Identifying and treating hearing loss early could be a big help in lowering these risks, improving the quality of life for people with hearing loss, and reducing overall health care costs for us all.

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13 thoughts on “Why Don’t Doctors Routinely Screen for Hearing Loss?

  1. Has anyone offered to you the use of the cochlear implant? My family is asking me to consider that but at my age I am not sure that is wise or something I really want even though I have lost 65% of my hearing.

    • Cochlear implants can be good for people of all ages, but it is very particular to the person. I suggest speaking to a qualified ENT about the possibility. No harm in doing some research. Good luck to you.

    • Go online to the many Cochlear implants support groups. Lots of people who have implants will be glad to share their experience with you.

  2. Cochlear implant is a wonderful option. Which doctor offered it?
    Only the ENT can offer it, after it is determined that you are a candidate.
    It’s not easy to become a candidate.
    I can barely hear out of right ear, because I have mixed HL…yet, I do not qualify. I’m not “deaf enough”.
    Primary doctors should not offer this, as they are not qualified to do so.
    They should refer you to ENT…more specifically, to an otoneurologist (surgeon who performs this delicate surgery).
    Your audiogram must show that you are essentially “deaf” in the specific ear.

  3. Shari…you are so right. Hearing loss is just not considered to be that “dangerous”. Over the last 10 years, I have fallen, numerous times….broke both feet..,once, fell on my head and almost shattered the orbital bone around my eye socket. …suffered permanent nerve damage, in my cheek and lip….it’s been awful.

    People don’t realize to what extent they use their hearing, to navigate the space around them.

    I also worry about my cognitive status, as my short term memory has become more impaired.
    Primary doctors typically do not do hearing screen8ngs. But, they should refer patients to audiologists. In the case of children, if there are frequent ear infections, then those children should be referred to ENT and audiologist, to rule out hearing loss.

    Even if there is no history of ear infections, kids can have “silent ear infections”, which means presence of fluid in the ear, with NO evidence of infections. Any fluid in the ear can block speech sounds. Thus, speech/language skills might be impaired or delayed.

    I’m speaking as a speech pathologist, with over 20 years of experience.

  4. Could it be that doctors don’t regularly screen for hearing loss because they know so little about how widespread it is? Or they simply don’t spot or ignore the signs of possible hearing loss in their patients?

    I guess that unless there’s a family history of hearing loss at a young age that they are aware of then they might have some focus, but generally I don’t believe that they are aware of a growing, widespread problem.

    • I think you are right, but that lack of knowledge needs to change. Medical schools must incorporate more information about hearing loss and today’s doctors should stay educated on changing trends in healthcare. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  5. Let’s rephrase the original question. Why does my Audiologist or HIP not check my vision or heart rate when I visit them for my annual hearing check up? Hmm, of course we would not expect and AuD or HIP to check vision or heart or other parts of our body would we? As humans with control of ourselves we should make sure we go to the people most appropriate for what the issue is. Plus a general GP cannot read our minds, so unless we TELL them what is bothering us (experiencing dizziness, tinnitus, trouble hearing etc) they don’t know to refer us to a specialist who will know more on that particular subject.

    We are starting to see more doctor offices now have a hearing clinic in the same office space; again same with vision centers having hearing centers sharing the same space; this is awesome as it will help increase awareness that our hearing should become part of an annual routine to get checked.

    Remember, often your GP has limited time available for each visit, i actually do not want the GP to give me a “very” basic limited hearing check a test that would be very limited in its sensitivity and specificity, I want my AuD or HIP to check my hearing properly just as the GP will check my heart, lungs, overall health and I want my vision specialist to check my vision each year.

    When I go to the oil change experts with my car to service the fluids in the car; they don’t check the brakes, nor does the brake experts check my oil when i am getting brakes done on the car.

    Lets take control of ourselves and get the appropriately trained people to look after our hearing health, vision health, general fitness health etc. As a combined force educated steps can then be taken to help/change/correct or assist (where possible) what ails us.

    • I think a general practitioner’s role is to test all the different systems, and if an issue is detected, send you to an expert. I question why hearing is not one of those systems they routinely check, but I agree that it is our responsibility to make sure this happens if the doctors don’t do it automatically. Thank you for sharing your perspective.

  6. Agreed Shari…..and it’s getting worse. My checkups and similar are “formulaic” these days. I check in on an Ipad and can’t escape learning about some new medicine. Many questions about mental health on the Ipad though……wondering if they’re telling me something! It wouldn’t be too hard to ask some question(s) about hearing? Thank you…….next patient! LOL

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