March the 3rd is officially World Hearing Day. This is a day promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise awareness on prevention of hearing loss and to promote healthy hearing practices around the world. Every year, they choose to focus on a particular theme, and this year they are telling people to ‘check your hearing!’. It is thought that many people around the world don’t realise that they have hearing loss and are living a more limited life as a result. Scheduling a hearing check-up should be the first course of action to resolve this issue.
According to WHO, hearing loss is a growing problem around the world. There are 466 million people in the world with disabling hearing loss, which amounts to 5% of the population of the planet. If these trends continue, then the numbers could increase to 630 million people by 2030, and 900 million by 2050.
One out of every three people on this planet over the age of 65 is affected by hearing loss. This is especially prohibitive for the older generation as they are often already at risk of loneliness and social isolation, and hearing loss tends to exacerbate this. Not only that, hearing loss has recently been linked with early cognitive decline and dementia, making it extremely important for people in this age group to be tested as soon as possible and for their hearing loss to be treated.
But it’s not only the older generation that needs to be wary of hearing loss. It is estimated that 1.1 billion young people around the world are putting their hearing in danger though noise exposure during sports events, concerts, and personal audio devices like smartphones. Regular exposure to noise leads to Noise-Induced Hearing Loss which is a preventable but equally irreversible condition.
The WHO recommends that those with hearing loss have the best chance of managing their condition with hearing aids and cochlear implants. Unfortunately, the world is currently outputting only enough hearing aids to meet 10% of global demand. There are about 72 million people around the world who could benefit from the use of a hearing device.
As mentioned before, hearing loss has been linked with declining cognitive health and dementia. But did you know that there is evidence that it also increases the risk of falls, reduces your earning power, and puts a strain on your romantic and family relationships? Many people who wear hearing aids after a long period of untreated hearing loss report a marked improvement in their quality of life.
How to tell if you need a hearing test
Do you need a hearing test? One of the main signs that you could benefit from a hearing test is if you are always asking other people to repeat themselves. You might hear muffled sounds and find it difficult to understand others, especially women and children, as their voices are higher in frequency than men’s voices. You might also find it a challenge to hear your friend’s anecdotes in noisy places like cafes and restaurants, especially if the place is packed with other people talking. Finally, you might need to watch TV and listen to music at a volume higher than other people find comfortable. Are other people telling you to turn the TV down? This is a sign that you could benefit from a hearing test.
Those who fit into any of these categories should follow the advice of the campaign and ‘check your hearing!’. Hearing tests are quick, non-invasive and available both privately and on the NHS. In a bid to make it even easier to take control of your hearing, the WHO is also launching a free app called HearWHO which allows you to check your own hearing, as well as get advice on the best ways to preserve your existing hearing. Now there really is no excuse.
This year, celebrate World Hearing Day by listening to your favourite song and calling a loved one. Then go ahead and schedule a hearing test with us at House of Hearing, so that you may enjoy these moments for many years to come!