WHEN you tell someone they have a hearing problem, their response is often; “What did you say?”, followed by a flat denial.
This could explain why a recent free health and wellbeing day at Fremantle’s Hearing Life clinic was poorly attended.
An Access Economics study revealed that hearing problems are one of Australia’s most prevalent health conditions, affecting one in six people, and one in four in the over 70s.
“After 55, hearing starts to decline,” Hearing Life audiologist Sue Tearne says.
It’s a disability that gets little sympathy, as listeners become impatient with being asked to repeat what they are saying.
And studies show links between a wide range of social conditions and hearing loss, including depression and social isolation.
On average, people wait six years before seeking treatment, and many more never do, with an estimated 85 per cent not using hearing aids.
But the sooner people act the better, Ms Tearne says.
“Times have changed and people are living longer — so the sooner you start taking care of yourself the better,” she says.
“If you think you might have an issue with your hearing come and get checked.
“If it turns out there is a problem we can look at ways to rectify it.”
The problem isn’t confined to the older generation and young people are increasingly suffering hearing loss.
“In a recent study it became clear MP3 players are starting to be a big factor when it comes to hearing loss,” Ms Tearne says.
Technology has made huge advances since she trained 40 years ago.
“When I started, hearing aids were body aids and very large,” she says.
Audiologist Cal Pritchard pulls out a dainty pair of hearing aids that sit behind the ear and are barely visible.
“The technology has gotten smaller, and with digital you can fine-tune to reduce background noise,” he says.
For more information go to hearinglife.com.au, where you can take a free on-line hearing test, or phone 9430 8801.
by JENNY D’ANGER