Being an invisible disability, hearing loss often goes ignored and unaddressed. This shouldn’t be the case, as it can lead to significantly harsh consequences later on. Moreover, it can be helped—it is what your nearby hearing center is for.
Hearing impairment is a condition that should be properly given attention to. Learn more about it in this article.
Hearing loss or impairment is the reduced ability to hear sounds, which can affect either or both ears. It has four levels: mild, moderate, severe, and profound. Profound hearing loss equates to deafness or the inability to hear even when sound is amplified. Then, there’s profound deafness, which is the total lack of hearing.
Normal hearing ranges from zero to 25 decibels (dB) for humans. If you can only hear sounds at 30 dB and over, then you have hearing loss.
The kinds of hearing loss vary depending on the conditions of the ear. Here are the three main types:
This occurs when sounds or vibrations don’t pass through the outer or middle ear.
When the hair cells in the cochlea get damaged or the nerve pathways from your inner ear to your brain acquire problems, this happens.
When conductive happens at the same time as sensorineural, mixed hearing loss is the result. It can occur due to damage to your inner ear and the outer or middle ear.
While exposure to damaging noise is the leading cause of hearing loss, there are many other reasons for this disability. These include:
- Diseases such as meningitis, chickenpox, and mumps
- Use of certain medicines in the treatment of tuberculosis or cancers
- Pregnancy or birth complications
- Chronic otitis media (for children)
- Head or ear injuries
- Genetic factors
Worldwide, around 477 million people are affected by hearing loss. By 2050, it is estimated that this number will skyrocket to 900 million or one in every ten people. Here are some more alarming statistics to consider:
- Two to three out of every 1000 kids are born with a level of hearing impairment in the United States.
- Tinnitus, which is the ringing or buzzing sensation in the ears, is experienced by around 50 million Americans. Of that number, 90% have hearing loss.
- Almost half of the people over the age of 75 and nearly one-third of those aged 65 to 74 have hearing loss. Following hypertension and arthritis, it is the third most prevalent chronic condition among the elderly.
- Those affected by the disability wait an average of seven years before seeking medical attention.
- Only one out of five people who should be wearing hearing aids actually uses them.
These statistical facts emphasize just how serious hearing loss is around the world. In addition, they show how much it is swept under the rug.
Hearing loss negatively impacts a person’s life in many aspects—physically, emotionally, mentally, and socially. Affected children perform poorly in school and experience delays in spoken language development. Among older people, frustration and loneliness are felt due to exclusion from communication.
Unaddressed hearing impairment also brings bad news for the economy. It puts forward a whopping global cost of US $750 billion every year. Included in this sum are the health, educational, and societal costs. Moreover, unemployment and underemployment are rampant among adults with this disability.
Good public health measures and ear care practices can effectively prevent hearing problems. Here are some simple tips:
- Immunizing children against common childhood diseases
- Being careful with food intake and hygiene, especially for expectant mothers
- Reducing exposure to loud noise
- Avoiding drugs that can be harmful to the ears
- Promoting health programs
- Raising awareness about the condition
While prevention is better than cure, being hearing-impaired doesn’t have to mean the loss of hope for the affected. Help is available in various forms, such as hearing aids and implants. You can always visit a hearing center for more information.
Don’t let the pleasure and privilege of listening to your loved ones’ voices, indulging in great music, and appreciating the sounds of nature be taken away from you. Be sure to take good care of your ears in every way you can.