Why don’t Brits get their hearing tested enough?
The British and Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA) is calling for the annual mandatory hearing tests from the age of 55.
Recent research, published by The Lancet, has shown that the prevalence of hearing loss more than doubles between the ages of 49 and 59.
Hearing loss is a risk factor which can contribute to cognitive decline, falls in older people, and mental health problems. It can also affect independence, present employment difficulties, and make people feel isolated and less inclined to communicate with friends and family, leading to loneliness and depression.
Hearing tests can pick up hearing loss at an early stage allowing it to be treated and monitored. Regular hearing tests can be used to assess any further deterioration and treatments can be adapted as appropriate.
Free hearing tests are available on the NHS, but individuals need to self-refer through their GP and tests aren’t given as standard. High street providers can also test hearing for free.
Less than a third of us are aware that hearing loss is a comorbidity with other health problems.
The average amount of time since those aged 55+ have had their hearing tested is approximately 9 years, according to consumer research was conducted by Censuswide across 2000 UK adults in February 2020, with many in this age group believing that they should be getting their hearing tested every three years.
According to BIHIMA’s latest research:
- Over 60% of audiologists recommend that people should start having annual hearing tests over the age of 55
- And, just under 30% of audiologists say annual tests should start even earlier.
- Almost three quarters of audiologists believe there should be state-funded hearing tests for the over 50s.*
Many people don’t realise we can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and protect our mental health by simply getting our hearing tested.
Paul Surridge, BIHIMA Chairman, said: “Many people don’t realise the effect that hearing loss can have on their lives and may be living with hearing loss and its comorbidities for several years before it is recognised. Systemic change is required whereby we see it as part of our routine healthcare to go for an annual hearing test. This is especially important in the older population who are more likely to develop hearing loss and suffer from its comorbidities.”
If you need support for your hearing, please contact the Hearing Link Helpdesk