Hearing loss has been, and continues to be, a big problem – not only in the U.S., but also around the world. In fact, it’s continuing to grow. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 900 million people will suffer from disabling hearing loss by the year 2050. To put that number in perspective, that’s one out of every ten people.
Hearing loss facts
What can we do to help prevent the predicted statistic above from becoming a reality? When it comes to solving problems, including this one, knowledge is power. Let’s learn some facts, and then see how they can help us find a solution.
- Hearing loss has many causes. Some are congenital (present at birth), others are acquired due to complications of disease, and many are the result of preventable environmental factors such as noise exposure.
- Untreated hearing loss is costly. When hearing impairments are not diagnosed, or if they’re identified but not treated, the results can be costly – both financially and socially.
- The majority of childhood hearing loss is preventable. According to WHO, greater than half, or 60%, of childhood hearing loss is caused by factors that could be prevented.
- Most of the people with disabling hearing loss live in low-income countries. This may be the result of environmental factors, or it could be due to not being able to afford hearing loss treatment that would prevent a hearing impairment from becoming worse.
Hearing loss prevention
Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to health issues like hearing loss, as it is often easier or less costly than treating the problem once it occurs. Here are a few simple ways that hearing loss or deafness can be prevented in children, adults, or both:
- Immunization against disease – When children are immunized, they can have greater protection against acquiring diseases that could cause childhood hearing loss.
- No ototoxic drug use – Some ototoxic medications can lead to balance issues, ear damage, and hearing problems. If possible, other drug options should be considered, especially for pregnant women.
- Reducing noise exposure – This is true for both children and adults, as noise-induced hearing loss can result from continued exposure to loud noise, either recreationally or occupationally.
- Hearing protection – If excessive noise cannot be avoided altogether, appropriate hearing protection should be worn to prevent hearing damage. There are many options available including foam ear plugs, custom molded plugs, and earmuffs.
Hearing loss treatment
Of course, not every instance of hearing loss can be prevented. If it can’t be, however, it’s important to recognize it early and provide treatment as soon as possible. Generally speaking, the earlier the intervention, the better the outcome will be.
Hearing loss treatment comes in many forms and includes the following:
- Hearing aids
- Assistive listening devices
- Cochlear implants
- Aural rehabilitation
Regardless of the cause or extent of hearing loss, treatment starts with a hearing test or thorough hearing evaluation by a professional such as an audiologist. Treatment needs may change over time so it’s important to work with a hearing professional to determine the best possible option for your current condition.
Read the full story here