A taskforce of 52 hearing experts has released Living Guidelines for hearing care. The recommendations are for hearing professionals to improve the standard of care for adults. One of the nine recommendations is that if an adult has a hearing number ≥60 in their better ear and difficulties with everyday speech understanding, they should be assessed for a cochlear implant.
“Millions of adults live with untreated significant hearing loss and often an over-the-counter or prescription hearing aid simply cannot help them communicate effectively,” said Meredith Holcomb AuD, Director, Hearing Implant Program, University of Miami Ear Institute and Co-Chair of the CI Taskforce. “Their ears reach a point where increasing the volume of sounds causes distortion instead of clarity. This is when a cochlear implant is necessary as it can bypass the damaged parts of the ear to allow for improved speech understanding.”
The Living Guidelines make nine recommendations across hearing screening, specialist referral and evaluation, rehabilitation and patient outcomes. The two-year research project looked at more than 13,000 peer-reviewed studies and involved a panel of 52 experts representing 58 organisations, including those living with hearing loss. The guidelines will be updated as new evidence is published.
“People sometimes delay seeking treatment for hearing loss until they are struggling in their everyday life,” said Holcomb. “Even when they do receive help, they may see multiple hearing healthcare providers in the same city and get different advice about their treatment options. Unfortunately, many are never told about the option and benefit of cochlear implants until their hearing is horribly bad.”
These guidelines, she said, would provide “consistent evidence-based advice about who should be tested and referred for a cochlear implant, and what standards of care they should go on to receive if they qualify”.
The Recommendations and Good Practice Statements are open for public consultation and feedback until 31 May 2023