A new global survey reveals the importance of diagnosing and managing hearing loss if we want happier and healthier lives.
Research of 24,000 people from 14 countries by high street hearing specialist, Audika, and international research group, YouGov, examined the health and happiness of hearing aid wearers and non-hearing aid wearers, pre-and post-testing.
The survey revealed 41 per cent of New Zealand hearing aid wearers are happier than before diagnosis. And the impact of a diagnosis can be transformative; 1 in 4 hearing aid wearers report a ‘life-changing’ difference.
Significantly, the findings suggest that hearing loss is more widespread than we might think – with over half of New Zealanders (53 per cent) thinking that they have some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss is also one of New Zealanders’ biggest worries when it comes to ageing (45 per cent), after forgetfulness (57 per cent). This is much higher than the global average of 35 per cent.
Despite all of this, the survey shows New Zealanders are not taking action to look after their hearing, with only one in four planning a hearing test in the next 12 months – compared to 39 per cent who intend to get an eye test in the same period.
Furthermore, the top health concern for Kiwis is memory loss/dementia (68 per cent), and yet 85 per cent are unaware of the associated risk between hearing loss and dementia. Treating hearing loss early, before or in mid-life, is one of 12 modifiable risk factors for dementia as recognised by a landmark 2020 study in The Lancet.
Commenting on the research, trained audiologist and Audika Senior Regional Sales & Operations Manager for the Lower North Island & South Island, Michael Severn, says “Hearing loss shouldn’t be about ageing. The results indicate that those who sought help for their hearing reported being happier, leading more satisfying lives, and had more fulfilling relationships. By contrast, the Lancet study highlights the risks associated with hearing loss on one’s cognitive health.”
Love your ears, Love life
The research showed the impact that treating hearing loss can have on relationships. While many New Zealand hearing aid wearers (37 per cent) would previously pretend to hear better than they could, since treating their hearing loss, over half (51 per cent) now report having better conversations.
“The upsides are clear – those in the research sample fitted with a hearing aid reported many improvements in relationships and communication with their family.”, says Michael Severn, “Over a third feel more connected to their family and say there is less stress on their relationship.”
By 2050, 1 in 4 people worldwide will be living with hearing loss1, and as many as a third will be undiagnosed and untreated.
“We need to be kinder to our ears, because you can reduce your risk of hearing loss,” says Michael Severn. “Turn your headphones down, wear ear protection when directed, get tested regularly and from an earlier age. “LOVE YOUR EARS” means taking a proactive approach to your hearing.”
For the World Health Organisation’s World Hearing Day (3 March 2022), Audika is encouraging all to ‘Love your ears’, and take a free online hearing check, for immediate insight into your hearing status.
Severn said, “We must take our hearing loss more seriously, and there are accessible ways to stay more in control of your hearing health. Taking a free hearing check and wearing hearing aids can help you listen better, feel more connected and improve your quality of life. Audika’s five-minute online hearing check can help provide an immediate insight into how well you hear.”