Celebrate March 3, World Hearing Day

The World Health Organization has designated March 3 as World Hearing Health Day.  The purpose is to raise awareness of the impact hearing loss has on our ability to function in our daily lives.  According to the National Institute of Deafness, 48 million Americans suffer from some degree of hearing loss and 20% of Americans age 20-69 have some difficulty hearing and need hearing aids.  Among adults aged 70 and older with hearing loss that could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than one in three has ever purchased them.  The majority of these people will wait almost seven years before using hearing aids.

There are many causes hearing loss and some of them are preventable or medically treatable.  For others the use of hearing aids can make a significant difference in the quality of their lives.   Untreated hearing loss especially in the older population can lead to depression, cognitive difficulties and isolation.  All too often hearing loss goes undiagnosed as it is not a visible condition.  Many physicians do not ask their patients about hearing and therefore it may go undiagnosed. 

Hearing loss is not just an age related problem.  Many young people expose themselves to excessive levels of noise at concerts or while using their personal listening systems (earbuds) This type of hearing loss called a noise induced hearing loss leads to a permanent loss of hearing. This is easily prevented by lowering the level at which you listen to music and wearing noise protection ear plugs at loud concerts or events.

Here are some of the signs to look for to determine whether you may have hearing loss:

-Are you asking people to repeat themselves especially in the presence of background noise.

-Are people saying that you are speaking very loudly

-Do you find yourself turning up the volume on your television

-Are you experiencing tinnitus (ringing or buzzing) in your ears.

According to the American Academy of Audiology, the theme for 2019 World Hearing Day is the importance of early identification and intervention for hearing loss. Many people live with unidentified hearing loss, often failing to realize that they are missing out on certain sounds and words. Checking one’s hearing would be the first step toward addressing the issue.