People with learning disabilities are more likely to suffer from hearing loss than the general population, but are less likely to be diagnosed
At least 40% of people with learning disabilities in the UK suffer from hearing loss, but only a few get help to manage it, according to a study published in the British Journal of Healthcare Assistants.
The study focuses on the barriers that people with learning disabilities meet and the fact that they are often left undiagnosed. One of the barriers is that people with learning disabilities are not always aware that they have a hearing loss or they are not capable of communicating it.
Focus is elsewhere
Another reason why people with learning disabilities live with undiagnosed hearing loss is that their health care professionals do not pay attention to it.
Lynzee McShea, the author of the study and senior clinical scientist in audiology at Sunderland Royal Hospital in the UK, says that healthcare professionals rely heavily on family carers and support workers to identify hearing problems but that these people do not always have the skills to manage it.
McShea stresses the importance of educating carers and support workers in order to detect hearing problems. She points to strong evidence showing that people with learning disabilities notice a significant improvement in the quality of life when fitted with hearing aids.