Many people expect their doctors to be mind readers or even psychic in their ability to magically identify what’s wrong with them. And when it comes to hearing loss some patients think “if I had hearing loss, wouldn’t my doctor tell me?”
There are some important reasons why your doctor might not detect your hearing loss. To begin with, doctors frequently lack the resources, including time and training, to accurately assess your hearing problem.
Some of the reasons why your doctor might not alert you to your hearing loss include:
- Few doctors routinely screen for hearing loss
- Hearing loss is invisible
- Patients don’t take the problem seriously
- Too many patients—not enough time
- Most doctors lack the specialist training
If you have even the slightest concern about hearing loss you need to visit an experienced audiologist who can test your hearing. An audiologist is a specialist trained to detect and treat hearing loss.
Remember, it’s really important to treat hearing loss promptly because leaving your hearing loss untreated can have serious consequences for your health and well-being.
Let’s look more closely at why your doctor might not tell you if you had hearing loss.
Hearing loss is invisible
One reason your doctor might not detect your hearing loss is because hearing loss is invisible. Your doctor is trained in the process of observation. They are looking for mostly physical signs and symptoms.
Your doctor might be checking your blood pressure, pulse, temperature, pupil dilation or reviewing some recent blood tests. Unless you specifically ask your doctor to check your hearing any hearing loss could easily fly under the radar.
Hearing loss is not only physically invisible but because the hearing loss process is usually quite gradual you may not even notice just how bad it has become. You may even have forgotten many sounds because you have lived with your hearing loss for such a long time.
You might dismiss it as not serious enough. But, if you don’t bring the problem to your doctor’s attention then they probably won’t be aware of your hearing loss.
Patients don’t take the problem seriously
Despite the fact that 1 in 4 adults over 50 suffer from hearing loss it takes an average of 10 years before they seek help. And of those who do get advice only fewer than 20% of them will use hearing aids even if they’re strongly recommended.
You also might not take your hearing loss seriously because you:
- Are too busy getting on with life
- Think it’s just an age thing
- Don’t want to acknowledge the problem
- Believe it’s just other people mumbling
- Don’t think you can afford treatment
Doctor’s rooms tend to be very quiet too and so your hearing loss may not seem so bad when you’re face to face with your doctor.
But whatever your reason, if you don’t take hearing loss seriously enough to ask your doctor for help then they certainly won’t take it seriously either. But the consequences may be serious if you don’t get your hearing tested.
Most doctors lack the specialist training
The reality is your doctor is probably not a specialist in hearing loss. Only a trained audiologist is able to accurately assess the severity of your hearing loss and identify whether or not a hearing aid will benefit you. Doctors may have only a very general understanding of problems such as tinnitus or Sudden Hearing Loss (SSHL)and may not always give the right advice. The results can be devastating.
It pays to remember too that your doctor is looking at your overall health; they’re not necessarily focused on your hearing. They are trying to eliminate a whole range of issues that may have similar symptoms.
They could be concerned about your blood pressure or there might be a measles epidemic in the area and they’re checking for symptoms. You may have other conditions and the prescription medicines you currently take might ring some alarm bells for your doctor. In other words, your doctor might actually be more concerned about something other than your hearing.
For some doctors, hearing loss is one of those age-related conditions that don’t seem to be such an urgent priority. And when you realise that only 13% of doctors routinely test for hearing loss you can understand why your doctor might very easily not alert you to your hearing loss.
Too many patients—not enough time
Another reason why your doctor may not tell you have hearing loss is they just don’t have time. Many doctors are under enormous pressure with lengthy waiting lists and pathetically short consultation times. They may also be dealing with serious, life threatening emergencies throughout the day that distract them.
A Medscape recently released a report that indicates that the average time a doctor spends with each patient is between 13 and 16 minutes. And a joint Canadian/ U.S. study found that doctors, on average, interrupt their patients within 23 seconds after the patient begins explaining his or her symptoms.
This sense of urgency in the consultation may cause you to feel that your hearing loss problem isn’t worth troubling the doctor for. This is especially true if you need time to explain all your hearing loss symptoms.
One Markle Foundation survey shows that time-poor doctors rushing through consultations result in patients receiving only 55 percent of recommended care across a broad range of medical conditions. Let’s be clear, many Canadian doctors are caught in a system where the pressures are overwhelming—it’s not their fault that they’re short of time.
So, if you suspect that you have hearing loss then it makes sense to visit an expert audiologist. Audiologists have the time and the resources to make sure you get the treatment you need. And you might just be helping your doctor avoid burnout at the same time.
You need to be aware though that some forms of hearing loss may indicate serious underlying medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. Your doctor needs to rule these out.
Audiologists are specialists in treating your hearing
Your House of Hearing audiologist has the skills and tools to test your hearing and offer the best treatment for your specific hearing loss condition. There are just so many reasons why visiting your audiologist might save your hearing.