The World Health Organization (WHO) has named March 3 as World Hearing Day. It’s an opportunity to talk about hearing loss and hearing health. It’s also a time to connect with policymakers on issues related to hearing loss. These include raising awareness about hearing loss, educating individuals about hearing health, and reminding people that hearing loss affects everyone, regardless of age.
The Global Facts About Hearing Loss
According to the WHO, 466 million people worldwide have hearing loss. Of these, around 34 million are children. Rates of hearing loss are rising, and the WHO estimates that by the year 2050, there will be over 900 million people living with hearing loss! The WHO also estimates that only 17% of people who need hearing aids are actually wearing them.
World Hearing Day raises awareness about the high rate of hearing loss, and the low rate of treatment. Hearing loss is the fourth highest cause of disability in the world, and as rates of hearing loss rise, we need to do something about it.
What Are the Risk Factors of Hearing Loss?
There are a few major risk factors when it comes to hearing loss. World Hearing Day is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the risks to your hearing health.
- Age: One risk factor for hearing loss is age. Age-related hearing loss is quite common. In fact, half of seniors over 75 probably experience a hearing loss. However, age-related hearing loss starts much sooner than you might expect. Many adults in their 50s start to notice changes in their hearing, and have a hard time hearing soft sounds. Adults need to monitor their hearing health and be on the lookout for changes in their hearing.
- Noise: Noise is another risk factor for hearing loss. Extremely loud noise damages hearing surprisingly quickly, leaving you with a lifetime of hearing loss. Adults risk noise-induced hearing loss from noisy workplaces, or loud leisure activities like attending concerts, catching a sports event, hanging out at a very loud bar, or doing other leisure activities without hearing protection.
- Unsafe listening habits: Children and teens have a very high risk of noise-induced hearing loss. When the ears are still developing, they’re more easily damaged. And children and teens often spend hours every day listening to music or other audio through earbuds. They’re very likely to turn up the volume too high, and risk damaging their hearing. The WHO estimates that 1.1 billion teens risk their hearing from unsafe listening and recreational activities. Adults also crank up the volume, for example during a workout, or on the daily commute to work.
- Illness: Some illnesses or injuries can cause hearing loss. A head injury can damage the ear or disrupt the auditory regions in the brain. Illnesses like chronic ear infections can also damage the ear and lead to hearing loss.
- Medication: Certain medications can cause hearing loss. These drugs, called ototoxic medications, include medications to treat kidney disease, high blood pressure, or cancer.
The Negative Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss
World Hearing Day is a time to ask questions about hearing loss. Learn about the risk factors and find out how hearing loss can affect you and your loved ones. Untreated hearing loss might not seem like a big deal, but it will change your life. When you can’t hear clearly, you’ll struggle to communicate. Even if you strain to hear what’s being said, you won’t catch every word. You may have to ask people to repeat themselves, and feel embarrassed that you can’t hear.
Hearing loss is especially disruptive in places with background noise. All that extra sound makes it impossible to focus on the conversation in front of you, and you can’t make heads or tails of what’s being said. Before long, you find yourself confused and upset. People with hearing loss often stay at home, risking high rates of social isolation, decreased mobility, and even depression.
Treating Hearing Loss
Schedule a hearing test on World Hearing Day! Find out more about your hearing health and hearing needs and find out if you need hearing aids. Treating hearing loss with quality hearing aids will let you hear conversations easily, rebuild your relationships, and get the best out of life.