Better Hearing and Speech month: Why are annual hearing checks important for everyone?
by Envoy Medical Staff Member, on May 3, 2022
In 1927, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association designated May as Better Hearing and Speech Month. Raising awareness about hearing and speech challenges and reminding people to get their hearing checked is just as important today.
We have drastically expanded our understanding of the impact hearing loss can have on our health and our lives since 1927. If our ears are not functioning normally, it can affect our communication, our balance, and our cognitive functioning. Hearing loss and tinnitus can cause stress, depression, irritability, increased anxiety, and social isolation. However, many people don't realize that hearing loss can be caused by other common health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, all of which can go undiagnosed and untreated.
Hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes, and many with diabetes are undiagnosed. Even in those with prediabetes, (higher than normal blood sugar levels, the rate of hearing loss is 30 percent higher than in those with normal blood glucose (blood sugar).
Studies show a significant correlation between high blood pressure and sudden hearing loss and tinnitus. Evidence suggests a correlation between heart disease and hearing loss. It's believed that reduced blood flow to the ear caused by, cardiovascular disease can cause damage to different parts of the auditory system resulting in sensorineural hearing loss.
Whether you are currently experiencing hearing loss or not, it's important to have your ears examined annually. Timely identification of infections or damage can protect your future hearing.
Self-advocacy is really important with all things hearing. You need to bring up concerns about your ears or hearing to your physician, as it's something many won't ask you. Even when you don't have noticeable hearing loss, prevention is key, so you need to get a baseline.
What happens during an annual hearing exam?
- Evaluation of your ear canal and eardrum using an otoscope to review for infection or damage.
- Hearing screenings can typically be provided by your primary physician if you have not yet been diagnosed with a hearing loss. A screening is a quick pass/fail test and can determine whether a more comprehensive test is needed.
- If a screening indicates you need a more comprehensive test you will be referred for further testing either to an ENT doctor or an audiologist.
- Those who already have hearing loss should see their audiologist annually to monitor loss.
- Learn more about comprehensive hearing tests here.
Meet Esteem Audiologist Jacqueline Bibee, AuD, CCC-A
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