The consequences of hearing loss acquired in adulthood include
reduced occupational, personal and social capabilities.
This article discusses the psychosocial impact of hearing impairment
and the role of the general practitioner in addressing these issues.
There is considerable evidence that people whose hearing is
declining are reluctant to acknowledge it because of the stigma
associated with this particular type of impairment. Males are more
likely to exhibit such reluctance. There is also evidence that acquired
hearing loss is associated with increased emotional distress and
related mental health problems. General practitioners can play a key
role by responding sensitively to signs of reduced hearing ability in
their patients, and recommending the use of human and technical
resources that address obstacles to communication such as the
National Relay Service. This service relies on telecommunication
systems that maintain connections between people with hearing loss
and the surrounding world.
In Australia, more than 2 million people currently suffer from some degree of hearing loss. The incidence of hearing loss increases with each decade of life and is somewhat higher in men than women.1 The risk of hearing loss with increasing age is increased by factors such as occupational noise, smoking and high body mass index (BMI).2
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