A senior audiologist has highlighted the importance of hearing tests, saying one in six people will develop hearing loss at some stage in their life.
Victor Riley said hearing problems, which are the second most common health problem in the country, could be avoided in some cases if people took better care of their ears.
He said young people who played loud music into their headphones were ruining their hearing, while men using lawn mowers and chain saws destroyed theirs because they did not wear ear muffs.“Country men who have been driving tractors for 40 years believe the damage has been done and nothing can be done, but they still need to wear ear muffs because if they don’t their hearing will get worse," Mr Riley said.“Our research scientist always says if you’re sitting in a train or bus and can hear music from someone else’s headphones you’re doing damage.”
Mr Riley said most people suffered from a mild hearing loss and a hearing test at least every 12 months helped stay on top of any problems. He said high pitched sounds were often problematic for seniors and that’s why they often struggled to hear soft-speaking children.
“Th, s, and f, are all high pitch sounds, vowel sounds are lower pitch. Most older people have a high pitch loss and that’s why they have so much trouble hearing little kids,” he said. “Lots of people find it hard to hear certain letters when they are pronounced. They’ve probably got a mild hearing loss and a hearing aid won’t help.”
The mobile Australian Hearing Bus offers free hearing checks for pensions, veterans and people up to the age of 26.
The test involves sitting in a booth with headphones on and listening to four different low and high frequency sounds. The results are then calculated on a computer and the patient is given a pass or a fail.
“It’s the easiest test anybody can do, it’s only a screening test, so its not a full audiological assessment,” Mr Riley said.
Mr Riley has been testing hearing for 20 years and said that while it was generally improving, there was still more work to do. “Hearing is getting better because of the introduction of Work Health and Safety. Kids using headphones is an issue.”