Our hearing is a sense that helps connect us to the world. When hearing loss sets in it can be more devastating than many first understand. For one thing 90 percent of all cases of hearing loss are sensorineural, which is permanent cell damage, blocking some degree of sound, depending on the severity from the ears to the brain. This creates ongoing communication hurdles as well as an impact on mobility and less awareness of the environment leading to serious safety concerns for people of all ages.
With the start of March means World Hearing Day on March 3rd as it was dubbed for double threes resembling a pair of ears. (3-3) This annual campaign is led by the World Health Organization (WHO) in an attempt to raise international awareness around the dangers to hearing health, and the importance of regular screenings and treatment. This year’s campaign is dubbed “Ear and hearing care for all!” as a call to make access to hearing more accessible to people of all economic circumstances in every corner of the world.
Access to Hearing Care
WHO estimates that hearing loss affects roughly 466 million people worldwide and this number is projected to rise to approximately 900 million if world views around hearing loss prevention and treatment don’t change. One major issue facing people worldwide is that when it comes to access to hearing care, many people around the world simply do not have the resources to procure treatment. Some live in remote parts of the world where they can’t access audiology services. Meanwhile, hearing loss affects people of all economic backgrounds. In fact, people with lower incomes across the world struggle in higher proportions due to less access to healthcare services, less healthy foods and environmental toxins. The issue is they are also so strapped for resources that they in no way have the capital to access hearing healthcare.
The Dangers of Untreated Hearing Loss
WHO uses World Hearing Day to share information about the overwhelming hearing issues. People often mistake hearing loss as a hearing issue when in fact it’s a communication, mobility, and safety issue. When people forgo hearing loss treatment for the lack of economic resources, they are doing themselves a serious disservice, including rifts in relationships, loss of earnings at work, chronic depression, social isolation, loneliness, cognitive decline as well as a higher risk of dementia, falls and accidents leading to hospitalization.
The Importance of Treatment
While hearing loss is irreversible it can be treated effectively with hearing aids and assistive listening devices. These amazing devices are programmed in various ways in relation to the degree of hearing loss you’ve been diagnosed with. However, the first step is scheduling a hearing exam. Hearing exams are important for determining exactly what pitches, tones , decibels and ranges you struggle to hear. When used regularly, hearing aids can help improve your ability to connect with the people in your life, decrease the risk of cognitive decline and improve your awareness of your surroundings, increasing reaction time and overall safety.
Avoidance of Hearing Care
While much of the world struggles to access hearing healthcare, in the United States, while most can afford hearing aids, they choose to avoid seeking treatment. This is in part due to stigmas of admitting hearing loss being connected to aging or disabled. In truth we know that addressing a hearing loss is the first step into increasing your quality of life. While many worry that hearing aids will make them appear “old” the stereotype truly shines for those who find themselves confused or needing to ask people to repeat themselves constantly due to ongoing miscommunication issues. WHO hopes to promote a change of attitude around hearing treatments, to make it more alluring to people of all ages in the United States.
A Hearing Exam
How can you help to celebrate World Hearing Day? WHO’s campaign hinges on the importance of the whole being made up of individuals. For public perception around hearing loss to change it needs to happen one person at a time. If you are considering that you may have a hearing loss, it’s important that you address it right away. Start by scheduling a hearing exam now.