Selective hearing - the ability to filter out unwanted conversation and noise - is more prevalent amongst men, according to new research commissioned by Specsavers Audiologists.

National survey

The revelation – which probably comes as little surprise to most women - was among the findings of a national survey conducted by Empathy Research* on behalf of Specsavers to gain a better understanding of Irish people’s attitudes towards hearing health and hearing loss.

Hearing health

A common condition, hearing loss affects one in six Irish adults, with the incidence increasing significantly with age. But despite that, the majority of adults (69%) have not had their hearing tested within the last five years. The main reason cited for not getting regular hearing tests is that 66% believe that they do not require one as their hearing is fine. This is particularly worrying considering hearing loss can be gradual and not immediately noticed by the person affected. The speed of deterioration and effects can often be reduced with prevention, which can be discussed at a hearing test with your local Specsavers.

Regular hearing checks

Specsavers audiologist Rory Perry said: ‘Like all parts of our body, our ears are susceptible to ageing and deterioration, which is why it’s important to get regular hearing checks. In particular, those over the age of 55 should have their hearing tested every two years. Because of the slow progression of hearing loss, it frequently goes unnoticed and can take up to 10 years before the problem is identified.

Hearing aids work to enhance your existing hearing so early detection and intervention is crucial. Untreated hearing loss can have far-reaching implications beyond hearing and has been linked to feelings of depression, frustration and anxiety.

Hearing aids

Specsavers survey also found that 38% of Irish adults would avoid certain social situations if they were diagnosed with hearing loss due to difficulties in being able to hear clearly and to avoid embarrassment at asking people to repeat themselves. These feelings can often be minimalised with hearing aids. At Specsavers customers are encouraged to take a proactive approach to their hearing health and offer free hearing screenings and a consultation with a qualified audiologist at all 50 Specsavers hearing centres across the country.

On a positive note, attitudes towards wearing hearing aids seems to be shifting with the vast majority of those surveyed (90%) saying that they would wear them if it was recommended. Some 57% view hearing aids as helpful devices that improve hearing however, fears relating to appearance (41%), cost (34%) and stigma (25%) remain the three biggest deterrents to wearing hearing aids.

Attitudes towards ageing

Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older people and while there is a resistance to get hearing tested and acknowledge hearing loss, 73% of adults over 65 years of age claim that it is in their top three most feared aspects of ageing. The most common fear amongst all age groups is illness (64%). Almost one in five (18%) admitted to worrying about their physical appearance as they age including tooth loss, balding / thinning hair, weight gain, greying hair and having to wear glasses and 18% fear loneliness.

*The nationally representative survey was conducted in November 2016 by Empathy Research through an online omnibus survey.

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