Most Australians have some form of hearing loss, survey finds

A major study into the state of hearing in Australia reveals that a shocking number of people have some form of hearing damage – whether they are aware of it or not. 

How’s your hearing? Have you noticed any decline? Well, even if you haven’t there’s a good chance you have some level of hearing damage, especially if you’re aged 50 or over. 

Researchers from Macquarie University have compiled the Australian Eye and Ear Health Survey, a two-year study looking at the vision and hearing of 1750 Indigenous Australians aged over 40 and 3250 non-Indigenous Australians over 50. 

The first round of responses are in, revealing that most Australians have some form of hearing loss. And worse, almost half of the survey respondents (46 per cent) did not believe they had any form of hearing loss before getting tested. 

Professor Bamini Gopinath, lead author of the hearing component of the study, says the early results are a big cause for concern. 

“We found 97 per cent of the Indigenous people and 91 per cent of the non-Indigenous people we screened had some level of suspected hearing loss,” she says. 

“All the participants are asked if they think they have any problems with their hearing. Forty-six per cent of the people who answered ‘no’ to that question did in fact have some hearing loss.” 

Even more concerning, Prof. Gopinath says many participants were aware of their hearing problems but had not done anything to address them. 

“Another concerning factor is that more than a third of people with suspected hearing loss had never spoken to a healthcare professional about their hearing – and that included the people who knew they had an issue as well as those who were unaware,” she says. 

“Many people don’t want to admit they have hearing loss, as there is still a high level of stigma attached to it.” 

In a lot of cases, hearing loss happens gradually and can be difficult to detect, especially at the start. It’s often other people around the individual who first notice the hearing loss, rather than the individual themselves. 

If you do suspect you may have hearing loss, common symptoms include things sounding ‘muffled’, feeling people are talking too fast, struggling to follow conversations, having trouble hearing phone calls and having to regularly turn your TV up really loud. 

“It is often associated with ageing, and for this reason it can be hard for people to admit to themselves that their hearing is deteriorating,” Prof. Gopinath says. 

“Some people think it’s a natural part of the ageing process, so they accept their hearing is getting worse and assume there is nothing they can do about it.” 

So if you suspect your hearing may be slipping, book a hearing test today.

How is your hearing? When was the last time you had your hearing checked? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Hearing specialist offers tips to quieten tinnitus

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyer
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.
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