Global concerns and hearing loss
Around the world, on any given day, there are 466 million people dealing with disabling hearing issues, according to WHO statistics. That’s about 6% of the world’s population. In that number, 422 million are adults and more men than women report having hearing loss. About one-third of those affected are over the age of 65. Seven percent of those affected are children. Throughout the world, hearing loss is the fourth highest cause of disability. WHO estimates by 2050 there could be 900 million people dealing with hearing loss.
There are several reasons for the big jump – adults are living longer and hearing loss as a result of aging are going up. There are other risk factors, too, that are causing hearing loss estimates to go up, especially for young people.
Hearing loss risk factors
Noise, be it workplace noise, noise at a recreational or sporting event, or noise you encounter because of a hobby, is one of the primary risk factors. Also, on the risk list are chronic ear infections and certain ototoxic medications.
So, how much noise is too much noise at work? If you leave work and your ears are ringing, you have trouble with conversations because other peoples’ voices seem muffled and your head and ears seem stuffy – your work environment is too loud. Noise induced hearing loss in the workplace is the second most common workplace risk, behind physical injuries. Most countries recognize workplace noise as a risk factor and are trying to regulate it. In the United States, workplace noise is monitored and addressed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Poor listening habits are risky. Adults listening to portable devices cranked up at the gym while they are working out or running put their hearing at risk. Children, because their ears are still developing, are at a high risk for hearing loss if they have poor listening habits. A WHO study done in 2015 estimated that more than one billion young people are putting their hearing at risk if they listen to loud music for prolonged periods of time. Spending time at nightclubs, concerts and sporting events adds to the noise impact on their ears.
Additional risk factors
Over 700 million people each year get ear infections and most of them are children. More than half of those with chronic ear infections will develop hearing loss. WHO studies show early diagnosis and proper treatment is the key to cutting down those numbers.
Hearing loss can be a side effect of some medications used over a long period of time, researchers have discovered. If you think you may be having hearing issues due to your medication, do not stop taking the medication, but discuss it with your doctor.
Hearing loss is costly
Untreated hearing loss leads to both mental and physical difficulties. It has been linked to hypertension, sleep apnea, stroke, depression and early onset dementia. WHO estimates the world-wide cost of failing to address hearing issues at $750 billion each year. Early identification of hearing loss as well as treatment with hearing aids is encouraged.
Check Your Hearing with La Canada Hearing
There are too many things that you will with untreated hearing loss. Hearing is one of the five senses and it is a great contributor to your quality of life. Proper hearing evaluations and treatments will help you continue to get the best out of life. Don’t wait – celebrate March 3 with a hearing test.
Hearing tests are painless, and Dr. Kevin Ivory of La Cañada Hearing Aids & Audiology will guide you through the process of understanding your hearing loss, getting the correct hearing devices, and using them to improve your life.