The annual spotlight on hearing loss by the World Health Organization (WHO) delivers poignant messages to both policy makers and the public in order to stress just how widespread and life-changing hearing loss is. World Hearing Day marks the release of the yearly World Report on Hearing which continuously presents critical data to underline how many people suffer from hearing loss, many without treating it while others could have prevented getting it. This World Hearing Day, hearing aid manufacturer, Oticon, is joining the World Health Organization in its global call for action to address hearing loss, urging people to take timely action if they are experiencing any hearing loss and encouraging everyone to protect their hearing from preventable damage.
WHO reports that the current number of people with disabling hearing loss globally is 466 million and predicts that this could rise to over 900 million by 2050. Addressing hearing loss is crucial for life quality – numerous studies show that by living with hearing loss there is an increased risk of health problems which are both a cause and effect of not living an active, social life. Current WHO data shows that only 17% of those who could benefit from wearing a hearing aid actually use one.
Thomas Behrens, Chief Audiologist at Oticon, commented. “The earlier a hearing loss is detected and treated, the less impact it will have on a person’s life. The ability to communicate well and feel confident in social environments is vital to keep people leading an active life, which has significant benefits for health and wellbeing. Living with hearing loss for any amount of time, and at any stage of life, can begin to have an effect on daily life. This is because it is actually the brain, not only the ears, that plays the main role in hearing, as our extensive BrainHearing research shows, and the effort the brain endures to compensate for the lack of sound information it receives with a hearing loss can make many aspects of life too difficult. The consequences of not treating your hearing loss can include fatigue, isolation, depression and even an increased risk of early on-set dementia. We urge people to recognise the signs of hearing loss as early as possible and to seek professional advice.”
Seek help early
Year after year, the World Report on Hearing presents evidence that hearing loss is a huge cost to society resulting from the negative health effects of unaddressed hearing loss. The detrimental impact hearing loss can have on a person’s quality of life is of great concern. It is essential that people understand the importance of keeping their hearing healthy, and that early detection is so important. That said, hearing loss can be gradual so it can often take time to realise there is a problem. Anyone in a risk category for hearing impairment, such as those over the age of 50 or anyone exposed to loud noise in their occupation, is advised to consider regular testing.
Some types of hearing losses can be prevented
World Hearing Day 2021 will also stress the importance of hearing loss preventative measures, which could help reduce the number of people needlessly affected by hearing loss. The most prominent example of preventative hearing loss is Noise-Induced hearing loss (NIHL).
Noise-induced hearing loss IS preventable. It is essential that people stay aware of their noise exposure and try to minimize it whenever it approaches dangerous levels. Music concerts, for example, often have high noise levels which is harmful to the ears. Loud machinery and vehicles also regularly cause NIHL if the proper ear protection is not worn. There are three simple ways to help prevent hearing loss:
• Use well fitted earphones and noise cancelling headphones – a good fit stops sound leaking out which ensures clearer audio without the need to turn the volume up to dangerous levels.
• Wear earplugs (and fit them correctly) – in any noisy environment or for any loud activity, well inserted earplugs can help to reduce the level of decibel exposure considerably.
• Take listening breaks – ears need a rest from time to time, and a chance to recover from continuous exposure to noise.
“We have come far in treating hearing loss thanks to professional care and modern hearing solutions allowing people to hear all relevant sounds again so that they can live actively. Living with hearing loss can have many consequences for quality of life. That is why it is so important to treat a hearing loss – or try to prevent it, and why this World hearing Day, we urge everybody to take action,”
concluded Thomas Behrens.
500 million people worldwide suffer from hearing loss. The majority are over the age of 50 while eight percent are under the age of 18. Oticon’s vision is to create a world where people are no longer limited by hearing loss. A world where hearing aids fit seamlessly into life and help people realise their full potential, while avoiding the health consequences of hearing loss. Oticon develops and manufactures hearing aids for both adults and children and supports every kind of hearing loss from mild to profound and we pride ourselves on developing some of the most innovative hearing aids in the market. Headquartered in Denmark, we are a global company and part of Demant with more than 15,000 employees and revenues of over DKK 14 billion. Changing technology. Changing conventions. Changing lives.