[Every March 3rd, the World Health Organization (WHO) celebrates World Hearing Day as a way to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and to promote ear and hearing care across the globe. WHO chooses a theme each year and in 2019, the theme is Check Your Hearing in hopes to draw attention to the importance of early identification and intervention of hearing loss. So many people around the world are living with untreated hearing loss and checking one’s hearing is the first step towards addressing this health issue.
Global Hearing Loss Facts and Figures
It is estimated that 466 million people globally face some form of hearing loss. 93% of those are adults and 7% are children. Approximately one-third of people over 65 years old after affected by hearing loss. If these numbers are not astonishing enough, WHO estimates that 1.1 billion young people between the ages of 12 and 35 are at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe levels of noise exposure. WHO projects that by 2050 over 900 million will have disabling hearing loss if no action is taken to mitigate the problem.
What is Hearing Loss and What are its Causes?
Hearing loss is considered when someone is not able to hear as well as someone with normal hearing – a hearing threshold of 25 decibels (dB) or better in both ears. Decibels are units used to measure the intensity of sound. To give you an idea of the hearing threshold of 25dB, whispering in a library is measured at around 30dB. Hearing loss ranges from mild to moderate to severe to profound.
There are many causes for hearing loss, but according to the World Health Organization, there are two main types of causes for hearing loss: congenital causes and acquired causes. Congenital causes lead to hearing loss being present at birth or soon after birth. Some congenital causes include: inappropriate drug use during pregnancy, low birth weight, or lack of oxygen at the time of birth. The second form of hearing loss causes are that are acquired. This type of cause may lead to hearing loss at any age and includes: chronic ear infections, collection of fluid in the ear, injury to the ear or head, ageing, or foreign bodies blocking the ear canal. The most common though is noise-induced where excessive noise may damage the inner ear.
Widespread Impacts of Hearing Loss
Losing the ability to hear is detrimental in our everyday lives as it impacts the way that we communicate. In children, the functional impact of hearing loss delays spoken language development. There is also a social and emotional impact to hearing loss. Exclusion from engaged conversation with others can lead to loneliness, isolation, and anxiety and could potentially lead to depression. Beyond just the functional and social and emotional impacts of hearing loss, there are also economic impacts. Studies suggest that those with untreated hearing loss have a much higher unemployment rate. Among those who are employed, a larger percentage of people with hearing loss fall into lower grades of employment compared to their hearing counterparts.
Early identification and intervention on hearing loss helps minimize such negative functional, social, emotional and economic impacts on those experiencing it.
Early Detection and Intervention of Hearing Loss
Research shows that from the time someone identifies their hearing loss to the moment they seek treatment is an average of seven years. Imagine experiencing any other health issue and waiting that long to seek treatment; the chances of heightened risks for further health decline would be so high. That is why early detection and intervention are crucial in mitigating the impacts of hearing loss.
Early identification of hearing loss in children greatly improves a child’s linguistic, developmental, and educational outcomes. In adults, it decreases the chances for other health and safety issues like falls, social isolation, depression, and even dementia and improves relationships, earning power, and overall health.
Join the World Health Organization this March 3rd on World Hearing Day and get your hearing checked! Be on the right path to addressing your hearing health in 2019.
Schedule a Hearing Test with Comprehensive Ear and Hearing Today
Even if you or a loved one may not even be going through hearing loss, it is important to have your hearing check annually as it allows hearing health specialists to have a baseline to track your hearing ability in the years moving forward. In celebration of World Hearing Day, make a pledge and schedule a hearing test with Comprehensive Ear and Hearing today!