Why Don’t Physicians Screen for Hearing Loss?

Unfortunately, hearing loss is not always taken seriously — even by the medical community. How many times has your primary care doctor asked you about your hearing loss or screened your family and friends for hearing loss? The answer for me is zero. This should not be the case. In my recent article for Hearing Tracker, I ask, “Why don’t doctors regularly screen their patients for hearing loss?” The answer might surprise you.

An excerpt from the article is below. To read the full post click here

Why Screening for Hearing Loss Is Important

While sometimes dismissed as a regular part of aging, hearing loss can have significant implications for a person’s general health. Not only is hearing loss associated with a higher incidence of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but it is one of the largest modifiable risk factors for dementia. Hearing loss also usually comes with greater social isolation, a higher incidence of falls and higher hospital re-admission rates. It is not something to be overlooked.

Yet many physicians ignore it.

My doctors have never asked me about my hearing, even after I began wearing hearing aids. According to a June 2020 National Poll on Healthy Aging, this is the norm. In the poll, only 20% of adults 50-80 reported that their primary care physician asked them about their hearing in the past two years. For older adults who rated their hearing as fair or poor, the statistic ticked up to 26%. Men were more likely to have been asked about their hearing than women (24% vs 17%), as were those 65-80 years of age versus those aged 50-64 (25% vs 16%).

One Question Is All it Takes

This is a disappointing showing, especially since a preliminary hearing screening is fast and easy to do. According to the researchers at University of Michigan who oversaw the poll, “One efficient way to increase hearing evaluations among older adults in primary care is to use a single-question screener. The response to the question “Do you think you have hearing loss?” has been shown to be highly predictive of true hearing loss.

Read the full article on Hearing Tracker.

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6 thoughts on “Why Don’t Physicians Screen for Hearing Loss?

  1. Shari – Thanks for bringing this matter to everyone’s attention. It has been a complaint of mine for years and i would like to suggest to your reader’s that they do as i have done and raise the issue themselves. At 83 years of age visits to doctors – often new to me – are a somewhat regular occurrence. Whenever I visit a doctor for the first time I raise the issue and tell the story of a hard of hearing friend who had the same doctor for years and only when his hearing loss had become severe did the doctor address it and recommend that he have a hearing test. I now, also, then take out my phone, boot Live Transcribe and proceed .
    Someplace during the exam I’ll suggest to the Doctor that he download such an app to use when he’s examining a HoH patient both to raise the issue of their hearing loss and to demonstrate one means of improving communication access.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of LivingWithHearingLoss.com, a popular blog and online community for people living with hearing loss and tinnitus, and an executive producer of We Hear You, an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Shari also serves on the board of directors of Hearing Loss Association of America. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Very true—we must take some of this into our own hands. Thanks for sharing what works for you.

  2. What a great idea…I just sent Shari’s blog post to my own doctor….I doubt that it will resonate with him, as he has only 10 minutes to see each patient …he really doesn’t even do basic checkup (i.e., listen to heart with stethoscope, examine glands in neck, etc.)…just wants to know which meds I need refills for and it’s out the door.

    It’s so sad that doctors don’t really want to get into any “heavy” topics. Using Live Transcribe and encouraging the doctor to use with his other HOH patients, is just a great idea….thanks for this. My doctor speaks softly…actually mumbles and I always need to ask him to look at me (instead of just looking at the computer, as he types) and speak slowly and clearly. He shakes his head, as if to comply and then goes back to mumbling. Sad, but true.

    We really do need to be our own, best advocates.

    Thanks for this post, Shari…it shook me into remembering that I continue to need to advocate for best communication strategies.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of LivingWithHearingLoss.com, a popular blog and online community for people living with hearing loss and tinnitus, and an executive producer of We Hear You, an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Shari also serves on the board of directors of Hearing Loss Association of America. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Excellent! Perhaps that will prompt your doctor to be more attentive to the issues. Thank you for your comment.

  3. Around 2003 when watching CSI Miami, I could hear the gorgeous blonde firearm expert “Cali” (sp?), but I couldn’t understand the words; she had a voice that I dubbed “silken.” I asked my PCP to test my hearing, and his response was something like, “Oh, we all have some trouble hearing as we age.” But, I persisted, and he had his nurse test my hearing with his old and creaky device. But, sure enough, I had a ski-slope high frequency drop-off that started around 1kHz. Persistence pays!I have worn increasingly improved hearing aids ever since. Now, my loss in each ear is roughly -90dB down at the highest frequency.

    My hearing aids do a lot to improve my hearing and even word comprehension. And, I have just discovered a new “toy” that really improves my comprehension in a dining room setting: Phonak’s “Roger On In” remote microphone. When we dine with other folks, Roger “steers” its beam to pick up each person that is talking. Everything is piped into my ears through my hearing aids.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of LivingWithHearingLoss.com, a popular blog and online community for people living with hearing loss and tinnitus, and an executive producer of We Hear You, an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Shari also serves on the board of directors of Hearing Loss Association of America. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for sharing your story and the tricks that work for you.

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