Why You Should Talk about Hearing at Your Next Physical

Dr. Li-Korotky
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Hearing loss is a condition that poses many challenges in everyday life. Not only can it become difficult to carry on a conversation or connect with loved ones, but simple interactions in public can become confusing. Simply engaging in a straightforward exchange with a stranger can transform into a challenging guessing game. 

With these common communication problems in mind, you might be wondering how hearing loss even relates with a physical exam. In addition to the known communication challenges posed by hearing loss, it has been linked to physical health issues in several important ways. Let’s take a look at the many reasons to discuss hearing loss at your next physical exam, as well as the benefits that can emerge from that appointment. 

Hearing Loss is Linked to Physical Health Concerns

Recent studies have discovered physical health problems that are highly correlated with hearing loss. It remains unclear if hearing loss is causing these conditions or if they jointly stem from another source, but remaining aware of these connections is crucial information for your physician. 

Some of the physical health conditions that relate with hearing loss include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic kidney disease. Hearing loss is even correlated with obesity, which has a connection to a whole host of other physical health issues. 

Knowing that you have hearing loss can be taken as an early warning sign for these other conditions, so don’t forget to disclose hearing loss during your annual physical in order to give your physician the best information available. 

Hearing Loss, Mental Health, and Comorbidities

Not only are health problems correlated with physical health problems, but they are also correlated with other mental and cognitive health problems. When these three factors are put into the same context, your doctor will be eager to get as much information as possible. Social isolation is one common situation that links hearing loss, physical health, and mental health. 

Imagine the comorbidities that can occur in this context. Hearing loss commonly leads to social isolation. If a person struggles to hear and understand in too many conversations time after time, the effort might feel like more nuisance than it’s worth. Rather than the potential frustration and embarrassment of not being able to understand, many people with hearing loss tend toward social isolation instead. If that situation weren’t enough, social isolation can lead to subsequent physical, mental, and cognitive health issues, as well. 

Physical inactivity is related to cardiovascular problems, bone and joint issues, low energy, and fatigue. In addition, social isolation can lead to mental health problems including anxiety, depression, and other emotional stressors. Not only does social isolation relate with physical and mental health issues, but there is even a possible connection to cognitive decline. 

An active conversational life is a way to preserve mental acuity, so some researchers have hypothesized that hearing loss might be correlated with cognitive decline and dementia through the intervening condition of social isolation. As you can see, hearing loss is a crucial variable standing in relation with physical, mental, and cognitive issues, so disclosing hearing loss at your annual physical is an important way for your doctor to predict and prevent other related conditions. 

Treatment for Hearing Loss

When you talk to your doctor about hearing loss, you can take the opportunity to discuss treatment options, as well. Your physical doctor will likely point you toward a hearing health professional for a hearing test and to discuss treatment options. Those who have hearing loss can find that many of these related physical, mental, and cognitive health problems are alleviated with the use of hearing aids. 

Most healthcare providers will encourage you to seek treatment for hearing loss as a way to not only help your mood and conversational ability but also to promote your ongoing health in these other ways. Many studies have demonstrated that hearing aids fill in the gaps in hearing ability in ways that lead to other health solutions, so your doctor will encourage you to start the process with a hearing test. 

Once you have the results of that assessment, you will be presented with a range of hearing aid options to suit your individual needs, and these devices could prevent physical, mental, and cognitive health problems down the line.  

For comprehensive hearing health services, contact us today!