Hearing loss affects about 30 million persons in the United States. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently released a report on hearing health care for adults. This commentary summarizes findings and recommendations from that report that are particularly relevant for physicians.
Use this study to:
- Insert cotton balls into your external ear canals (not too far!), or wear commercial hearing protectors. Now, generate a differential diagnosis of hearing loss. Have someone ask you questions while your hearing is compromised. How does this make you feel? Are you less sure of yourself when participating in a discussion? Are you frustrated? Are you embarrassed when you are asked questions? Does this exercise help improve your empathy and attention to such disabilities?
- List the ways in which hearing loss may impair physical and mental health.
- What evaluation is appropriate for patients with hearing loss? Use the information in In the Clinic: Hearing Loss to help review, including the already prepared teaching slides.
- How would you arrange for hearing aids when appropriate for your patients? What services/devices are available, and are they covered by insurance? Talk to an expert from ENT and/or audiology to find out what you need to know about arranging care for your patients.
- Learn at the bedside! As you encounter patients with varying degrees of hearing loss, ask them about it. Did you learn anything you did not know? How might hearing impairment affect each patient's health care and quality of life?
Annals of Internal Medicine is the premier internal medicine academic journal published by the American College of Physicians (ACP). It is one of the most widely cited and influential specialty medical journals in the world.