March 3rd is World Hearing Day! This global campaign is all about raising awareness about hearing loss and accessing hearing healthcare. Launched by the World Health Organization (WHO), the theme of this year’s World Hearing Day is Ear and Hearing Care for All. This focuses on access to the wide range of hearing healthcare services, resources, and solutions that are invested in transforming your health and wellness.
Impacting over 48 million people, hearing loss is one of the most common health issues that people experience today. Though 1 in 5 people have some degree of hearing loss, only a third of people who could benefit from treatment actually receive it. Hearing loss tends to be widely undertreated, highlighting the importance of World Hearing Day. You can participate in this global call to action with one simple step: scheduling an appointment for a hearing test.
What causes hearing loss?
There are several factors that can contribute to the development of hearing loss. Common causes include:
- Loud noise: one time or consistent exposure to loud noise can permanently damage the sensory cells in the inner ear, causing noise indeed induced hearing loss. Loud noise can desensitize and weaken these cells, preventing them from performing their essential functions of converting sound waves into electrical signals that get sent to the brain. The brain then receives less auditory information, resulting in chronic hearing loss.
- Aging: aging is the strongest indicator of herring loss – the risk of impaired hearing increases with age. Age related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, can be caused by a few factors including existing medical conditions that older adults also are disproportionately impacted by and are linked to hearing loss as well as the cumulative impact of loud noise exposure, and changes that may happen to the ears over time.
- Medical conditions: substantial research shows that several medical conditions increase the risk of hearing loss. This includes cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes. These conditions affect blood flow throughout the body including the ears, impacting how sound is absorbed and processed.
Other causes of hearing loss include: head injuries, inner ear disorders, autoimmune conditions, and chronic ear infections.
What are common hearing loss symptoms?
Hearing loss reduces one’s capacity to hear and process speech as well as sound. This produces numerous symptoms that range from mild to more severe. Common symptoms include:
- Tinnitus: a ringing, buzzing, or clicking like noise only you can hear.
- Sounds are distorted or muffled making it hard to decipher words.
- Lip reading to identify individual words.
- Struggling to hear in places with background noise (restaurants for example).
- Increasing the volume on your TV or other electronic devices.
- Frequently asking others to repeat what they said, speak louder, and/or slower.
- Finding yourself responding to others with “huh” or “what”
- Pretending to hear to get through a conversation.
- Needing to move to a quieter space to be able to hear more clearly.
- Being able to hear better out of one ear compared to the other.
These symptoms make it difficult to engage in conversations. People may experience miscommunication and unpleasant interactions. This often causes people to avoid conversation altogether – skipping social activities and spending less time with loved ones. Social withdrawal is another common effect of hearing loss. If you recognize any of these symptoms, it is important to have your hearing evaluated by a hearing healthcare specialist.
How is hearing loss treated?
The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. These devices are designed to absorb, and process speech as well as sound. Today’s hearing aids, like most electronic devices, have experienced significant innovations in recent years. There is an array of options, offering various styles, features, and technologies. Your hearing healthcare provider will help you navigate your options and recommend devices that will optimally meet your hearing and lifestyle needs. Hearing aids not only transform hearing health but also strengthen communication and relationships. Treating hearing loss supports people living full and active lives.
Celebrate World Hearing Day by Scheduling Hearing Test
World Hearing Day is a great reminder to schedule an appointment for a hearing test. This is the first step towards protecting your hearing health and wellness. Contact us today to schedule a hearing consultation!