World Hearing Day is the largest global campaign that focuses on hearing health. Launched by the World Health Organization (WHO), this call to action emphasizes addressing hearing loss and raising awareness about preventative measures. Hearing loss is one of the most common medical conditions that people experience. According to WHO, 466 million people globally have disabling hearing loss. This public health epidemic is expected to rapidly increase so focusing on prevention is critical.
World Hearing Day: Screen, Rehabilitate, Communicate
In addition to advocating for public hearing health policy that expands accessibility, World Hearing Day highlights three important strategies:
- Screen: integrate regular screenings into annual health check-ins. Having hearing assessed consistently allows you to monitor your hearing health and intervene early if you experience any changes. Early intervention can significantly improve treatment and health outcomes.
- Rehabilitate: the most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. These highly advanced devices are designed to absorb, amplify, and process sound; providing significant support and increasing a person’s hearing ability.
- Communicate: treating hearing loss has countless benefits including enhancing communication. Effective communication is what sustains healthy relationships, strengthens job performance, enhances social life and general wellness.
Treating hearing loss also reduces the risk of developing other associated health conditions including cognitive decline and accidental injuries.
Hearing Loss FAQs
Though hearing loss is one of the most pervasive health conditions that people experience today, it is often underdiagnosed for a variety of reasons. There are various misconceptions about impaired hearing that contributes to overlooking its occurrence and the impact it has on all facets of life.
- Doesn’t hearing loss only impact older adults?
Hearing loss impacts people of all ages. It is true that age-related hearing loss (referred to as presbycusis) significantly impacts older adults:
- 25% of adults ages 65-74 have some degree of hearing loss
- 50% of adults 75 and older have disabling hearing loss
Additionally, according to WHO:
- Over 43 million people globally, ages 12-35, live with disabling hearing loss
- 1.1 billion teens and young adults are at risk for developing hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noise
Hearing loss isn’t fatal so how can it be a serious condition?
Hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition that adults experience. It is also a permanent condition that cannot be cured and if untreated, it can lead to significant health issues. Additionally, the symptoms it produces can take a toll on daily living by straining communication which is essential to managing personal and professional responsibilities. Strained communication often leads to social withdrawal and this combination can take a toll on mental health, contributing to depression, loneliness, and anxiety. Impacting physical and mental health, untreated hearing loss can deepen if it is not addressed.
Speaking loudly solves the problem right?
People often assume that they can self-manage declining hearing with strategies like speaking loudly, reading lips, pretending to hear etc. But these strategies are not effective and can actually exacerbate hearing loss by delaying treatment. Hearing loss is best assessed and treated by a hearing healthcare professional. The most common treatment is hearing aids which are electronic devices that are designed to provide support with amplifying and processing incoming sound.
Tips for Effective Hearing Care
There are various ways you can tend to your hearing health. Simple tips to integrate into your daily life that prioritize your hearing health includes:
- Wear protective gear: earmuffs, earplugs, headphones etc. serve as a protective barrier for the ears, reducing the amount and impact of sound absorbed.
- Reduce exposure to loud noise: by avoiding noisy environments, opting for quieter settings, maintaining low volume setting on electronic devices etc.
- Take listening breaks: your ears and brain are constantly working to process incoming sound information throughout the day. Taking breaks from this stimuli by powering off sources of sound allows the auditory system to rest and replenish.
- Have hearing assessed: hearing tests measure hearing capacity in both ears, establishing any impairment and the degree. Having hearing tested regularly allows you to be informed about your hearing needs and intervene if you experience changes.