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March 3rd is World Hearing Day! This international call to action is all about encouraging hearing loss treatment. Organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), World Hearing Day raises awareness about hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of the most common medical conditions that people live with. In the United States alone, over 48 million people have some degree of impaired hearing. This means that the prevalence of hearing loss is twice as common as diabetes or cancer.
Though it is common, hearing loss is often undertreated. The theme of this year’s World Hearing Day is Ear and Hearing Care for All which emphasizes the array of hearing healthcare services, resources, and solutions that are available to support your hearing health. You can participate in World Hearing Day by scheduling an appointment for a hearing test, the first step towards treatment!
What causes hearing loss?
Hearing loss can be caused by several factors. A few of the most common causes include:
- Loud noise: one time or consistent exposure to loud noise can permanently damage the auditory system – the entry system for hearing. Loud noise can desensitize and weaken the sensory cells in the inner ear. These cells play a major role in how we process sound. They convert incoming soundwaves into electrical signals which get sent to the brain. The brain is then able to further process these signals which includes assigning meaning to them, allowing us to understand what we hear. Damaged sensory cells prevents them from effectively processing soundwaves and this results in the brain receiving less auditory information, causing noise induced hearing loss.
- Aging: the risk of developing age related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, increases with age. It is estimated that 1 out of 3 adults, agest 65-74 have hearing loss. This increases to half of all adults, 75 and older, who have disabling hearing loss. Age related hearing loss can be caused by a few factors including the cumulative impact of loud noise exposure, changes to the ear that may happen over time, and existing medical conditions that older adults are disproportionately impacted by and which are linked to hearing loss.
- Medical conditions: extensive research shows that a number of medical conditions increase the risk of developing hearing loss. This includes heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. These conditions can damage blood vessels and restrict blood flow throughout the body including the ears. This can disrupt how soundwaves are absorbed and processed, contributing to hearing loss.
Other causes of hearing loss include head injuries, chronic ear infections, inner ear disorders, and autoimmune conditions.
How do I know if I have hearing loss?
It is important to intervene as early as possible to address adn treat hearing loss. If you suspect you may be experiencing changes to your hearing, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I struggle to keep up with conversations, especially in places like restaurants where there is more background noise?
- Is a conversation with multiple people overwhelming for me?
- Do I ask others to repeat what they’ve said, speak louder, and/or slower?
- Am I lip reading to help identify individual words?
- Do I need to turn up the volume on the TV, phone, or other electronic devices?
- During conversations, do I ever pretend to hear?
- Are conversations, social settings, chats with multiple people overwhelming for me?
- Do I feel excluded or left out of conversations sometimes?
- Do I say “huh” or “what” in response?
- Have I been skipping out on social activities and events?
- Am I spending less time with loved ones?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions, this may indicate that you are experiencing hearing loss symptoms. Be sure to get your hearing comprehensively evaluated by a hearing healthcare specialist.
How is hearing loss treated?
Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss. These innovative pieces of technology are designed to absorb, amplify, and process speech as well as sound. This provides the ears and brain with ample support, alleviating hearing loss simpsons and maximizing one’s capacity to hear. Hearing aids not only improve hearing but also strengthen communication. This improves relationships, supports social engagement, and enhances overall health.
Celebrate World Hearing Day by Scheduling a Hearing Test
Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation. World Hearing Day is a great reminder to prioritize your hearing health and wellness.