New survey results strike the need for FREE screenings to test for hearing loss, blood pressure and diabetes during Hearing Awareness Week later this month, in a roadshow staged by Hidden Hearing with the Irish Heart Foundation and Diabetes Ireland.
Those interested in being tested are encouraged to register now for the free health screening events, taking place in Sligo, Navan, Bray, Wexford and Cork from Monday 25th to Friday 29th March.
Medical research around the world shows that untreated hearing loss is linked to general health and wellness and can indicate a higher risk of problems with blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and dementia.
However, a survey by Hidden Hearing Ireland in January this year showed awareness of the connection between hearing loss and serious health issues such as cardiovascular disease and dementia, is low here, even among those with hearing loss.
While social isolation was identified by 43% as problematic, and a further 35% identified depression as being connected with poor hearing, only 11% of hearing impaired people in Ireland recognised a link between dementia and hearing loss.
There were similarly low levels of awareness of connections to blood pressure (9%), stroke (9%) and diabetes problems (7%).
Ireland Poor on Hearing Health
The survey was part of worldwide research and indicated a poor track record for the Irish when it comes to looking after their hearing health, according to Hidden Hearing Ireland Audiologist, Peter Noel Cullen.
“There was low awareness of the knock-on health impacts when we don’t treat hearing loss. Also significant was the delay in the time people take to have their hearing tested, and to seek treatment when they notice a problem; and a reluctance to use a hearing aid when needed”, he reported.
22% in the Irish survey admitted waiting five years or more before seeking medical help for hearing loss. This was the highest figure in the global sample for treatment delay.
A report by the National Council on the Ageing has shown that people with hearing loss who do not use hearing aids can be prone to depression, worry, and diminished social activity. Those whose hearing loss is treated to report better relationships, improved mood, and more independence.
Wearing a hearing aid can also slow the progress of dementia by up to 75 per cent, according to a study published by the University of Manchester at the end of last year.
Scientists believe that keeping people engaged and active with devices like hearing aids can significantly reduce age-related cognitive decline.
The research team said the strength of the association between hearing aids and mental deterioration meant policymakers should consider hearing loss screening for all older adults.
Free Local Screening
This month’s Hearing Awareness Week free screening events run between 10.00am and 4.00pm, with health specialists available to answer questions and provide vital health checks and procedures like blood pressure and blood sugar measurement, foot examinations, ear wax removal and hearing tests.
Marese Damery, Health Check Manager for the Irish Heart Foundation, says a regular blood pressure test can literally be a life-saver, as high blood pressure is a silent killer and a leading cause of heart disease and stroke in Ireland.
Type 2 diabetes is also a growing problem in Ireland, with over 200,000 people already diagnosed and an estimated prevalence of 6.5% of the population.
Patients with diabetes are more than twice as likely to have hearing loss, according to studies at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the largest biomedical research agency in the world.
And, ongoing research in the Medical College of Wisconsin has shown that, because the inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow, cardiovascular abnormalities are noted in connection with hearing loss too.
Hearing affects our quality of life in a big way, and has important health and safety implications, according to Hidden Hearing Audiologist, Peter Noel Cullen.
“We are isolated when we don’t hear properly and it puts a strain on our relationships, and on other aspects of our general health. Wearing glasses for poor eyesight is common, and yet we need to have a similar approach to hearing devices in order to get the most from life”, the hearing expert says.
As well as the countrywide roadshows for Hearing Awareness Week, free hearing tests are available for over 50s at all 80 Hidden Hearing clinics nationwide.
Sligo The Southern Hotel, 25th March
Navan The Newgrange Hotel, 26th March
Bray The Royal Hotel, 27th March
Wexford The Talbot Hotel, 28th March
Cork The Imperial Hotel, 29th March