Celebrate World Hearing Day: Ear and hearing care for all!

Celebrate World Hearing Day: Ear and hearing care for all!

In Hearing Health, Hearing Loss by Christa N. Smith, Au.D., CCC-A

Christa N. Smith, Au.D., CCC-A

Do you suffer from hearing loss? You may not even know it. Hearing loss often develops subtly, so you don’t realize it’s an issue until it is difficult to hear even in the most ideal of listening situations. Often it begins as struggling to hear in noisy settings and gets worse from there. However, even at the mild levels of hearing loss it can still have lasting effects for people’s total health.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 466 million people worldwide struggle with hearing loss and this number is projected to double within the next 30 years.  To prevent a sharp population rise in people living with permanent hearing loss, WHO holds World Health Day this and every March 3rd. It’s a worldwide campaign to raise awareness around the severity of hearing loss, how to prevent it and the importance of treatment. The theme for 2023 is “Ear and Hearing Care for All”. In its honor we’d like to truly explore the importance of addressing hearing loss across ages ranges and other demographics.

Taking Responsibility for Your Health

Like a leaky sink, avoiding a hearing issue will only make it worse. Even at its earliest stages, studies have shown that people score lower on cognitive testing. People underestimate hearing loss as an ear issue when in fact it starts as a communication issue, which impacts a person’s ability to connect to others in their professional and personal life. As it progresses it can lead to chronic depression, social isolation, a strain on cognitive abilities, and a greater risk of falls and accidents leading to hospitalization.

Regular Hearing Tests

Many people think of hearing loss as a condition which mainly affects the elderly. While this is true, they use this fact as an act of denial, thinking hearing loss possibly couldn’t be an issue for them. WHO projects that 1.1 billion people world wide between the ages of 12- 35 have hearing loss due to exposure to noise at loud entertainment venues and by listening to ear plugs. The number one thing to understand is that hearing loss could happen to anyone at any time. The Better Hearing Institute, a not-for-profit organization that recommends getting a hearing test once every decade until age 50, and once every three years after that. For those 60 years and older or show signs of hearing loss then it’s recommended to test annually.

Protecting Your Hearing

After old age, noise induced hearing loss is the most common type of hearing damage, particularly for a younger generation. All it takes is an exposure of 85 decibels (dBA) for eight hours or more to cause permanent hearing damage for life. As the decibels rise, the time it takes for damage to occur becomes even shorter. This is why many people damage their ears early in life using headphones connected to personal listening players. Headphones can blast decibels as loud as 100 dBA—which can cause damage in around 15 minutes. You don’t have to stop using headphones—just listen safely. Turn down the volume to no higher than 60 percent of the total volume and be sure to take listening breaks.

The Importance of Ear Protection

Aside from monitoring the volume at work, home and during recreation it may be time to invest in hearing protection. In the workplace, employers are mandated by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) to supply their employees with hearing protection at no cost of their own. However, it is up to you to make sure to wear them whenever a noise is loud enough to cause damage and make sure they are worn with a firm seal. For those who work in noisy professions or enjoy noisy hobbies, we recommend custom fitted earplugs for a more secure fit. Others who hunt or go to very loud shows may want to invest in active noise canceling headphones which cut off sounds at dangerous decibels while allowing quieter sounds to come through, to help you be alert in your surroundings.

Celebrate World Hearing Day with a Hearing Test!

If you’ve never had one before, this March 3rd is a great time to try your first hearing exam. You never know what you’ll find, but at least you’ll know. If a hearing loss is detected, we are here to help walk you through the process and help find the best solution for all your hearing care needs.