When was your last annual wellness checkup? If you are like many other adults, you might not actually get your annual checkup on an annual basis. However, staying consistent on your annual wellness checks can help you stay abreast of your overall health and any emerging health conditions. With early identification, medical professionals can better recommend preventive measures or early interventions that can prevent the condition from becoming more serious.
In addition to checking for common health concerns – like high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, and more – your annual wellness visit should include a check for hearing loss. In particular, those enrolled in Part B of Medicare receive an annual wellness visit that should include an individualized prevention plan and the completion of a Health Risk Assessment questionnaire.
In 2011, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force concluded that evidence was insufficient to evaluate the balance of benefits and harms of hearing screenings in adults aged 50 or older who are asymptomatic for hearing loss. Because of this, some adults may not receive a hearing screening as part of their annual wellness visit.
In recent years, the focus has turned to help general physicians better recognize the signs and symptoms of untreated hearing loss. This is especially important when assessing the health of older adults who may not realize they are experiencing hearing loss. For example, a person with untreated hearing loss may not be able to accurately answer questions about symptoms or provide relevant information regarding other aspects of their health.
The recent focus on identifying the early signs of hearing loss, especially in aging adults, has also highlighted the importance of referring patients to hearing health care professionals as needed. Physicians should be able to initiate conversations regarding hearing loss with patients who are symptomatic or asymptomatic and provide tips for coping with hearing loss as well. It is imperative that a physician follows up with their patients to ensure they receive proper treatment from a hearing health care specialist, such as an audiologist. At each annual wellness visit, the physician should check that the patient is receiving appropriate hearing treatment.
This makes the coordination between general physicians and hearing health specialists an important one. Untreated hearing loss has been associated with several serious health conditions, including depression, anxiety, falls, and dementia. To ensure that their patients avoid these conditions as best as possible, both general physicians and audiologists should work to provide patients with early diagnosis and proper treatment for hearing loss.
Appropriate treatment for hearing loss can also improve the patient’s quality of life, social life, relationships, and overall function. A general physician may play an essential role in helping a patient recognize that hearing loss is not a “normal” part of aging, that it can be treated, and that hearing interventions can be affordable and accessible.
If you have been diagnosed with hearing loss, or if you believe that you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, we encourage you to contact our audiology practice today. We are eager to provide you with the care you need.