Celebrate World Hearing Day: Ear and Hearing Care for All!

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March is here and for many, this means spring is just around the corner. Along with the new blooms soon to be bursting through the ground, you may find you are getting out and spending more time outdoors.To get the most out of your active lifestyle, we suggest you take this time to make sure your hearing health is addressed. One in three people 65 and older struggle with hearing loss and this number jumps to one in two at 75 years and older. However, hearing loss affects people of all ages. With the start of March, it also means that World Hearing Day is almost here.

World Hearing Day 2023

March 3rd is World Hearing Day, a worldwide campaign to raise awareness and promote prevention and treatment around hearing loss, led by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO understands hearing loss as a global crisis, affecting 466 million people of all ages and demographics. The WHO worries that if global attitudes and systems around hearing loss prevention and treatment don’t change, the prevalence of hearing loss may rise to 900 million by 2050! This March 3rd we recommend celebrating by scheduling a hearing exam

Causes of Hearing Loss

Understanding the cause of hearing loss is the first step toward prevention. While some hearing loss may be the result of blockage in the ear canal due to a buildup of fluid or earwax, 90 percent of hearing loss is sensorineural. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the tiny hair-like cells of the inner ear are damaged or destroyed, impeding the delivery of sound from the ear to the brain. Many causes can lead to this damage including:

  • Age-related hearing loss: By far, the most common cause of hearing loss is due to changes in the ear as we age.
  • Noise-induced hearing loss: Many people make the mistake of thinking hearing loss is only due to old age, however, the WHO estimates that approximately 1.1 billion people worldwide between 12-35 years old suffer from hearing loss due to exposure to loud noise. The volume of sound is measured in decibels and any sounds over 85 dBA for eight hours or more can start to damage your hearing. As the decibels rise, the exposure time necessary for hearing damage to occur decreases. For every increase of three decibels, the exposure time is cut in half. For instance at 88 dBA it only takes 4 hours for damage to occur and at 91 dBA it only takes two! Headphones have the potential to expose listeners to decibels as high as 100 dBA, causing hearing loss in as little as 15 minutes! To listen safely, keep your headphones no higher than 60 percent of potential volume levels and take listening breaks every 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Ototoxic chemicals and medications: Some chemicals are ototoxic, meaning they can damage the cells of the inner ear. Some of these are present in prescription as well as over the counter medications. The most common ototoxic medications include some antibiotics, chemotherapeutic agents such as cisplatin, loop diuretics, antimalarials, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and acetaminophen.

Some environmental toxins are also dangerous to our ears, including exposure to carbon monoxide emitted from automobiles. People in areas with higher pollution have higher rates of hearing loss, making hearing loss also an environmental issue.

  • Other causes of hearing loss: Another cause of hearing loss is impact to the head during contact sports such as football, rugby or lacrosse, or automobile accident. Chronic infection or chronic health conditions which affect the delivery of blood to the inner ear such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or hypertension can also increase the risk of hearing loss.

Early Detection and Intervention

The earlier you detect a hearing loss, the sooner you can take action and help prevent the many emotional, physical, and cognitive impacts of letting it go unaddressed. While hearing loss is irreversible, the most common treatment is hearing aids. These amazing electronic devices help to amplify the sounds you struggle with, while allowing the rest of sounds to be heard comfortably. This can not only enhance your everyday social interactions, but also improve economic and mental well-being.

Celebrate World Hearing Day!

You don’t have to wait for World Hearing Day to schedule a hearing exam. Contact us now to schedule your next hearing exam. Addressing hearing loss around the globe can begin with you!

Kenneth H. Wood, BC-HIS

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