Why Hearing Loss is Important to Discuss with Your Primary Care Provider

Why Hearing Loss is Important to Discuss with Your Primary Care Provider

Our country is amazing for addressing issues and pushing forward medical technology. However, it can often lack on prioritizing preventative measures which can avoid health issues from developing to dangerous extremes. This means that early diagnosis and intervention means being prepared to deal with health issue before they get to a place where they may be difficult to reverse. 

As we get older it’s important to look after your health. This means attending regular physicals to make sure that everything is in order, such as heart, blood pressure and diabetes. However, many people overlook their hearing health and it’s most likely not your fault. While your general practitioner may be very thorough, its rare for a doctor to also check hearing.

The Importance of Treating Hearing Loss

This is in part due to misconceptions about the far-reaching effects of hearing loss. Insurance companies historically downplay the importance of hearing loss to avoid covering expenses around hearing related issues. However, study after study find that unaddressed hearing loss can lead to a slew of health comorbidities which span mental, emotional, and physical severity. 

For instance, hearing loss affects your relationships at home and work which then affects emotional health, giving way to chronic depression, social anxiety, isolation, and loneliness. This also effects a person’s likeliness to get out, stay active and try new things. In addition, a hearing impairment forces the brain to work harder to listen which puts a strain on cognitive function and increases the risk of dementia significantly. 

However, getting ahead of a hearing loss before these health effects can progress can improve quality of life and help keep you active and connected for years to come.

What’s Included in a Physical

While an annual physical from your general practitioner checking all your vital signs including blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate it often skips a hearing exam. Its standard for them to perform a physical examination of your eyes, ears, nose, throat, chest, abdomen, and nervous system functions to make sure everything is functioning normally. In addition, they will most likely order blood work, to monitor your internal organs such as kidneys, liver, and immune system. 

However, only about 30% of adults say they had a hearing assessment as part of their regular physical.  The likeliness of hearing loss becomes increasingly more likely as we age. For those of us 65 and older, one in three already have hearing loss. By 75 years and up half of us have hearing loss. Because of the likeliness of hearing loss as we age, it’s important to talk to your doctors about hearing loss. 

Why You Should Talk About Hearing at Your Next Physical

The burden of hearing loss is very real and far reaching. Our entire health is interconnected in surprising ways. 

Monitoring Comorbidities

A comorbidity is the simultaneous presence of two or more diseases or medical conditions in a patient. This can include among many, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, arthritis or sleep apnea. Many of these conditions may also increase the risk of hearing loss – especially those which affect the blood flow to your inner ear. The cells of the inner ear which transport audio information to the brain rely on a healthy supply of blood to the brain and any condition which limits this can increase the likeness of hearing loss. If you’ve been diagnosed with a heart or blood issue, such as diabetes or hypertension, be sure to also assume that your hearing health must be monitored.

Hearing Loss and Communication

Our happiness and health are more closely related than many are willing to admit. When hearing becomes impaired it may take years for you to realize you have an issue. However, not knowing about the conditions does not mean you won’t feel the effects. It can be increasingly more difficult to connect with others in your life at home and at work. Self-confidence, and sense of independence is often affected, causing many to be more resistant to get out, try new things and remain social. This can impact all aspects of health, as humans are social creatures who thrive when in community with others.

Ask About Your Hearing

There is a good chance that your doctor won’t bring up hearing loss at your next physical. It’s up to you to start the conversation. If you are concerned about your hearing, schedule a hearing exam with us today and stay on top of your health.