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Research shows Brits unaware of hearing loss comorbidities

Less than a third of people in the UK (29%) know about common comorbidities with hearing loss.

In a recent survey of 2000 UK adults, commissioned by the British Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA), consumers were questioned about their awareness of the co-existence of hearing loss and other diseases such as dementia, depression, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

The data showed that 67% of people are unaware that untreated hearing loss can contribute to early onset dementia. On top of that, over half (53%) said that they had no idea that hearing loss can cause depression and other mental health problems.

It also showed that the age group with the least awareness were those aged between 45-54 (only 19% knew that hearing loss is a comorbidity with other health problems), while the younger generation of 16-24 year olds were better informed (47% were aware).

In a second survey of audiologists, BIHIMA found that 85% of hearing care professionals did not think their patients were aware of co-existing conditions. However, they were slightly more optimistic about societal levels of awareness about the risk of dementia caused by hearing loss, with 51% saying they thought their patients knew about it.

However, the majority of audiologists (54%) also said they would be very unlikely to speak to their patients GP about potential comorbidities. And 51% said they were not likely to consult with a patient’s GP, consultant or pharmacist about potential ototoxicity of medication.

A holistic and integrated approach to a patient’s health, which considers the interplay between all medical issues, is likely to be beneficial for patients.

The above research is important in its potential to encourage behaviour change: a further 64% of Brits said they would be more likely to wear a hearing instrument if they knew about the association of hearing loss and other health conditions.

Paul Surridge, BIHIMA chairman, said: “This research reveals a concerning lack of understanding amongst the public. We are calling on others in the hearing care sector and the government to help us get the message out there that looking after your hearing can improve so many areas of health, meaning people live well for longer!”

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