Macquarie University: Tackling adult-onset hearing loss as a public health challenge

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Professor Lin explored the need to reframe adult-onset hearing loss as a public health challenge, including the US approach, which includes the imminent launch of the “Know Your Hearing Number” campaign.

The campaign encourages people to have regular hearing checks in the same way as they check their blood pressure or vision, so they know what a healthy range is, and when to get tested and do something about it if things aren’t what they should be.

Professor Lin’s research has previously confirmed strong links between hearing loss and dementia, and he is currently running a trial to see if treating hearing loss can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

Professor Gopinath, who is running the hearing component of the Australian Eye and Ear Health Survey, provided an Australian perspective and shared the key action areas that encompass a public health approach to tackling adult-onset hearing loss, in order to achieve the goals of the roadmap.

Professor Gopinath says since the beginning of the pandemic, the focus has been largely on COVID-19 for the past two and a half years and many health programs, including those focussing on hearing loss, have received less attention than is warranted.

“When the roadmap was first released, it included a list of desired outcomes, but no clear steps on how to attain them, and it’s very important that we get hearing back on the agenda,” she says.

“One of the outcomes that the roadmap identified is for all Australians to value their hearing, but a study has shown that on average, adults wait seven to eight years to seek help for their hearing loss.

“There’s a clear link between hearing loss and dementia, which gives us an extra reason to take it very seriously. It has far-reaching implications for every aspect of life for us and our families.”

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