Hearing loss is a growing global health concern, and that is exactly what World Hearing Day 2021 is raising awareness for this March 3rd. This World Hearing Day arrives in conjunction with the slogan “Hearing Care for All”, an important reminder of how hearing issues can affect us all. World Hearing Day is also happening in conjunction with the World Report on Hearing in an effort to reach policymakers and individuals alike and raise awareness around hearing health.
The Scope of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is a vast and growing problem worldwide. With increased industrialization and development, as well as the rise of personal technology and headphone use, harmful noise exposure has significantly increased over the past several decades. Currently, around 466 million people have disabling hearing loss across the globe, representing more than 5% of the world population.
Counted amongst those with debilitating hearing loss are 34 million children. It is also estimated that around 60% of childhood hearing loss is preventable. When hearing loss in childhood goes untreated it can compound into delays of learning and development. Early unaddressed communication challenges facing children with disabling hearing loss can hold them back in ways that ripple into adulthood.
The number of people globally with disabling hearing loss is expected to nearly double over the next three decades with the WHO anticipating 900 million people living with disabling hearing loss in the year 2050. Additionally, the numbers the WHO is working with encompass hearing loss cases that are considered disabling, accounting for moderate to profound degrees of hearing loss. If mild hearing loss is also taken into account as significant hearing loss, the numbers may climb to over 10% of the population.
With hearing loss so widespread, the push to address the issue is falling far short of the need. Currently, it is estimated that only 17% of those who could benefit from the use of hearing aids use them. That means that more than 4 out of every 5 people with disabling hearing loss are not being treated for their condition.
Changing the Picture
Mitigating the impact of hearing loss is a huge part of the work that World Hearing Day undertakes to do. Where there is copious scientific evidence around the benefits of treating hearing loss and much is known about key ways hearing loss can be prevented, public knowledge and policy are not in step with programs to both curb the rise of hearing loss and effectively treat existing cases of hearing impairment.
Using the keywords: “Screen. Rehabilitate. Communicate.”, World Hearing Day 2021 has in mind three essential fronts to advance our global response to hearing loss. When hearing loss goes unaddressed, it takes a toll on a person’s overall health and their quality of life. Additionally, untreated hearing loss has economic repercussions. Worldwide untreated hearing loss is estimated to diminish the global economy by 750 billion dollars in lost earnings and costs.
By advocating for screening, World Hearing Day hopes to raise awareness about the importance of testing for hearing loss as part of early detection and preventative care. Hearing loss screenings are an important part of health care throughout our lives, and they are especially important for young children, those with risk factors for hearing loss and adults over age 65. Catching hearing loss early can make a world of difference in treatment. Those with risk factors such as a noisy workplace, ototoxic medication use, and certain health conditions should make hearing screenings part of their annual health care.
Rehabilitation is fundamental to curbing the impact of hearing loss on people’s lives. Treatment for hearing loss, such as hearing aids, offer easy-to-use and effective means for increasing comprehension and ability to communicate. Treatment pathways give people with hearing loss better access to the world around them and reduce the negative quality of life risks that hearing loss brings with itself.
Communication is the third part of World Hearing Day’s campaign. Communication is necessary to promote an accurate understanding about the facts of hearing loss. Educating people about the relationship between dangerous noise levels and permanent hearing damage is necessary to begin to lower hearing loss. Similarly, public education around the effectiveness of treating hearing loss is another critical way communication can change the future of healthy hearing.
If you are concerned about your hearing abilities, why not take advantage of this worldwide celebration for healthy hearing? Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing test and consultation.