The first results of a major study into hearing loss in Australia are in – and if you are over 50, you should probably book a test.

Nearly half the people screened in the first rounds of the Australian Eye and Ear Health Survey (AEEHS) said they did not have a hearing problem did, in fact, have some level of hearing loss when tested by audiologists.

The two-year survey will visit 30 sites across the country to screen hearing and vision in 1750 Indigenous Australians over the age of 40, and 3250 non-Indigenous Australians over the age of 50.

Inaugural Cochlear Chair in Hearing and Health at Macquarie University, Professor Bamini Gopinath, who is leading the ear health component of the survey, said early results suggest there is cause for concern.

“We found 97% of the Indigenous people and 91% of the non-Indigenous people we screened had some level of suspected hearing loss,” said Prof Gopinath.

“All the participants are asked if they think they have any problems with their hearing. 46% of the people who answered ‘no’ to that question did in fact have some hearing loss”.

“Many people don’t want to admit they have hearing loss, as there is still a high level of stigma attached to it.

“Another concerning factor is that more than a third of people with suspected hearing loss had never spoken to a healthcare professional about their hearing – and that included the people who knew they had an issue as well as those who were unaware.”