Florence Hearing Health Care (FHHC) is launching the start of Audiology Awareness Month with a campaign to encourage anyone that has been wondering about their hearing, regardless of age, to get it checked out now. Primary care providers play a key role in helping patients address hearing health. They are often the first health care providers that patients bring up hearing changes with and can encourage patients to address any hearing changes promptly. Studies show that untreated hearing loss can impact other areas of a patient’s health and well-being, and also becomes harder to treat over time.
However, a patient might not always bring up hearing difficulties during a medical exam. Dr. Jennifer Sowards encourages health care providers to be on the lookout for the following and to recommend a complete audiological exam by an audiologist as needed:
Patient or patient’s frequent communication partner reports suspected changes in hearing acuity. Often patients first report that it sounds as if people are mumbling, especially in the presence of background noise. The communication partner may report the patient’s preferred television or radio listening volume is too loud for them or that the patient speaks loudly.
If your patient has signs of dementia, we recommend a diagnostic hearing exam as hearing loss is correlated with dementia (Johns Hopkins University reported a fivefold increase in the risk of dementia in patients with hearing problems). Dementia symptoms can also appear exacerbated in the presence of untreated hearing loss.
If your patient has diabetes, we recommend an annual evaluation to monitor thresholds as hearing loss is a comorbidity of diabetes.
Patients with a history of noise exposure either from occupational or recreational sources are more likely to develop presbycusis, even if the noise exposure occurred many years ago.
If patients have undergone chemotherapy, particularly carboplatin or cisplatin regimens,as these agents may be ototoxic.
If patients report tinnitus, this may be a symptom of hearing loss.
Patients that can understand clearly are more likely to be engaged in the decision-making process of their healthcare and more likely to comply with physician instructions. Patients that can hear clearly in social situations are more likely to be socially engaged and have lower incidences of depression due to social isolation.
FHHC is pleased to offer comprehensive hearing healthcare for adults in western Massachusetts and to partner with health care providers to help their patients maximize their hearing ability. They also provide presentations for health and wellness providers in the western Massachusetts area about when to refer patients, hearing loss comorbidities and other hearing health topics.