Hearing loss isn’t just experienced by the elderly – that’s the message being shared by Port Stephens’ audiology professional Simone Jolly.
Over the past three years, 20% of Newcastle residents aged 40 and over have experienced hearing loss – that’s close to 16,000 people.
What’s worse, many of those leave their symptoms untreated, despite help being at hand.
“Research shows hearing loss is also affecting generations before (the elderly), with a large portion of those affected being aged in their 40s and 50s,” Ms Jolly said.
“We know that, on average, it takes Australians seven to 10 years to acknowledge they have hearing loss before taking action so we are encouraging Newcastle locals to be vigilant about hearing checks to make sure they receive the support they need when they need it,” she said.
“When it comes to hearing health, prevention is best, so watch out for signs of hearing loss because some conditions are better treated when diagnosed early so you can not only avoid the physical problem but also the emotional toll that comes with it.
“Poor hearing can push people to withdraw from social scenarios or even cause severe stress as they find it hard to communicate with others.”
Of men over 40, nearly a quarter have experienced hearing loss in the last three years, compared to just 15% of women.
Ms Jolly said there were several measures you could take to protect your hearing.
“When exposed to loud noise, choose to wear personal hearing protection when possible, such as earplugs, earmuffs or both,” she said.
Reducing the number of noises and simultaneous conversations can also reduce strain on your ears.
“If you are concerned about your hearing, ask yourself whether you increase the TV volume louder than is comfortable for others or perhaps you regularly ask people to repeat themselves.
“You may avoid noisy places because of your hearing or have difficulty following conversations.”
If you know someone who you think may be hard of hearing or you are worried about your own hearing loss, it’s best to book in for a hearing check.