The Relationship between Car Servicing and Hearing Checkups
Mechanics would tell you that skipping your car’s next service would cost you more money in the long run. Neglecting to service one’s car can have costly consequences later on. But what does that have to do with hearing health? The concept of monitoring one’s health or “health servicing” is as necessary as regular car services.
Now more than ever, it has been clear that health is wealth. When we are not feeling sick we tend to not visit the doctors’ rooms and often skip annual checkups. However, routine hearing screening and checkups are crucial to identify conditions early on in order to start treatment sooner rather than later, and in general to maintain good ear health and prevent ear related diseases. It is a common suggestion that an average person should have a medical checkup once a year. Ears should not be neglected at this check up. In some cases, if there is a family history of hearing loss or the individual has a known pre-existing ear condition, one may need to visit the medical rooms more than once a year.
Across the age spectrum, we are constantly exposed to viruses, bacterias, harmful stimuli such as loud sounds, radiation etc, and we are prone to both non communicable and communicable diseases. One should keep in mind that various medical conditions and treatment for the medical conditions can cause hearing related problems. Usually, a medical doctor is the first point of contact for most people, the medical doctor then refers the individual to the right profession for further assessment and management should a need arise. It is important to note that most healthcare professionals, such as an audiologist, can be visited without a referral from the medical doctor. In case one does not have a medical aid, it might be economical to go directly to the health professional that they require.
Why should I check my hearing?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that there are approximately 360 million people in the world living with disabling hearing loss. This is just over 5% of the world’s total population. 91% of the total 360 million are adults, and remaining are children (32 million). The prevalence (commonness) of hearing loss, especially in children, is greatest in developing countries such as those in sub-Saharan Africa. Of concern is that the WHO estimates that by 2050 over 900 million people worldwide will have disabling hearing loss.
As mentioned earlier, various conditions and situations can contribute to hearing loss. Non-communicable diseases, which are chronic by nature, such as uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension have been associated with hearing related issues. See our previous post The Link Between Diabetes and Hearing Loss. Individuals living with diabetes and/ or hypertension have been documented to experience tinnitus, balance-related issues, and hearing loss.
Communicable diseases, such as bacterial meningitis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have been reported to be associated with hearing loss. Therefore making such infectious diseases risk factors for hearing related issues.
Some pharmaceutical treatment for both communicable and non-communicable diseases contain toxic ingredients that affect the auditory system. Ototoxicity, defined as developing hearing and/or balance disorders as a results of the medicine administered, has been well defined and researched. Perhaps the most reported is the use of aminoglycosides antibiotics for treatment of MDR-TB. Aminoglycosides have been shown to cause irreversible sensorineural hearing loss. Of interest is that many over-the-counter medications used to treat every day conditions have ototoxic properties. These include: Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (Aspirin, Ibuprofen), Chemotherapy Drugs including Cisplatin (Cancer Treatment), Diuretics (Heart Condition Treatment), Quinine Based Drugs (Malaria Treatment), Certain ARV drugs ( HIV treatment), and blood pressure medication.
There are a variety of other things as well that can affect one’s auditory system. Others include trauma to the head, exposure to loud noises (whether recreational or occupational), injury to the eardrum as a result of foreign objects being inserted in the ear (earbud) and so forth.
Thus, it is important to look out for what you are exposing yourself and loved ones to that puts your hearing at risk. Seek professional help to prevent or treat the condition as early as possible. Skipping regular health checks, like a hearing test, does cost us more in the long run. The cost of untreated hearing-related disorders varies in complexity and severity. This is not only a financial burden, but can affect one’s communication, relationships, ability to learn, and ability to hear and avoid danger (e.g. vehicles on the road).
Where can I get my hearing tested?
Did you know that an audiologist equipped with a KUDUwave audiometer can provide hearing services in the comfort of your own home? With the boothless audiometer, the KUDUwave is lightweight and fully portable, causing no hindrance to mobile practices. Contact an audiologist near you and see if they offer this service with their KUDUwave audiometer.