Most people know the importance of getting an annual wellness visit. Many doctors will ask when you complete your appointment if you want to schedule the following years visit in advance. They take this yearly opportunity to run tests to see if you’re dealing with anything unusual that can be caught early on.
Something we don’t normally think of during these exams is our hearing health. Sure, they look in your ears and ask you a bunch of questions so they are aware if you’re having issues responding to them or have an ear wax buildup, but what else can they do during this time?
Through a basic Health Risk Assessment (HRA), doctors evaluate several different factors like cognitive state, fall risk, and mental state which includes anxiety or depression. In addition to this, they also screen your hearing and communication status.
Recently there has been more attention on how a decline in hearing can affect other areas of a patient’s life and doctors are beginning to take a more in-depth look at their patients’ auditory situation. Unidentified hearing loss is a major issue in a doctor’s fight to help patients maintain good overall physical health.
Along with that, untreated hearing loss is a major problem as well. According to Reuters Health, an estimated one-third of U.S. adults who are living with decreased hearing have not sought help for this problem.
By talking to your regular doctor at yearly exams, you can minimize the long-term risks associated with hearing loss. These include the following:
- Exhaustion resulting from listening fatigue
- Mental issues/psychological disorders
- Physical pain
- Social disconnect
- Trouble speaking
All these issues can result due to not seeking the proper treatment when you suspect that you are having trouble hearing. Through the HRA that your doctor will use to evaluate you, they are able to determine if you are having issues in any of these areas.
With the spotlight on early diagnosis for patients living with hearing loss, more and more medical professionals are beginning to take into account that these issues can be a byproduct of a deeper problem. Often, they will line up with other situations a patient may have going on, but when you tell your doctor that you are noticing ringing in your ears or you can’t hear the birds chirping anymore, it can clue them into a potential auditory disorder.
While it could be something as simple as a buildup of ear wax, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Once you’ve been evaluated by your primary care physician, they can refer you to an audiologist who will work to not only diagnose the issue but to explain the cause as well as layout all of your options.
Since this awareness is still a work in progress, don’t be afraid to speak up and let your doctor know you are having problems in this area. Not all doctors will screen as thoroughly as is recommended for yearly exams so you might need to advocate for yourself. It’s ok to ask for a referral to an audiological specialist too.
Interest in getting hearing devices is slow to come in many circles. Hearing aids are often associated with the elderly or people are afraid of the stigma associated with wearing them. Technology today has made hearing devices so advanced that they’re cool, and even the younger generations don’t really mind using them.
Many of the devices on the market today are capable of linking with Bluetooth to phones, home alarm systems, radios, TV’s, and even gaming consoles. This can make them much more attractive to the younger crowd and allow much more in the way of interactive use.
For younger children, this ability to link with other devices can be used as a learning tool to help advance their learning skills. Many kids who are born with or develop auditory issues at a young age are at risk not only for social setbacks, but also for delayed learning and even behavioral disorders. They can easily fall behind other children their age and it could take years to catch up.
By getting your youngster checked yearly and talking to their pediatrician at the first signs of trouble hearing, you can help you child to live a rich life, full of sounds and laughter. Be prepared to advocate for your child as you need to do in many other situations, as a doctor won’t see in a 20-minute visit what you see in their everyday life.
If you feel that your child isn’t getting the quality of care they need from your primary physician, be sure to ask for a referral to a qualified audiologist. They are trained to work with people of all ages, and many have special rooms and equipment geared towards treating children.
Don’t let your fear of the unknown keep you or a loved one from receiving the hearing care they need. There is so much out there to learn and hear. Maximize your annual wellness exam by helping your doctor help you and your hearing health.