Prevalence and Risks of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is one of the common health disabilities. The ear is a susceptible organ that can be damaged permanently by such ubiquitous sounds as a roar of a generator, a bang of a gunshot or the ding of a construction. A valid estimate suggests that about 10 percent of the people in the USA and Europe experience some sort of hearing impairment. Estimates indicate that by 2050, about 10 million, which is equivalent to one person out of ten, will have hearing impairment.
Disabling hearing impairment refers to hearing impairment greater than 40 dB in a healthy hearing ear in adults and greater than 30dB in healthy ears in children. The majority of hearing impairment cases are reported in low and middle-income countries.
Approximately one-third of adults above 65 years are affected by hearing loss. The prevalence in this group is high in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Some quick facts of about hearing loss:
- There are approximately 466 million people in the world with hearing loss, and 34 million of them are children.
- Estimates suggest that by 2050, approximately 900 million people will have some degree of hearing impairment.
- Hearing loss may be contributed by several factors, among them genetic factors, certain infections, complications during birth, exposure to loud noise, use of certain drugs, and aging.
- Sixty percent of hearing loss in childhood is as a result of preventable causes.
- 1.1 billion young people are at risk of experiencing hearing loss as a result of exposure to loud sounds in recreational areas.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss
The following are the common signs of hearing loss:
- Hearing your own voice as muffled
- Difficulties in understanding sound, especially under low frequencies.
- Withdrawal from conversations
- Needing to increase the volume of music or TV.
- Avoidance of some social settings
The Relationship Between Hearing and Health
Hearing loss has been linked to being a significant contributor to atrophy in the brain. Besides, it also contributes to social isolation. People often separate themselves from others, and in instances, they engage with a group, they likely mute on conversations. A combination of these factors may result in dementia.
One of the important functions of ears is maintaining balance. As you walk, your ears collect subtle cues, which are essential for maintaining body balance. However, when experiencing hearing loss from either one ear or both, you will likely not receive these balancing signals. Hearing loss also stimulates your mind to function extra harder in order to process sounds. All this subconscious multitasking is likely to interfere with some mental processes that are necessary to walk safely.
Common Injuries Related to Hearing Loss
Living with reduced hearing ability doesn’t just put you on social disadvantage. Hearing loss may increase your risk of getting injuries in several settings, including at the workplace. The information is backed up from the latest study conducted by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, which assessed how hearing ability played a role in adults who experienced accidents annually from 2007 to 2015. The results showed that individuals with mild hearing loss were 60 percent more likely to experience accidents, those with moderate hearing loss were 70 percent more likely to experience accidents, while those with severe hearing loss were 90 percent likely to suffer injuries compared to those with normal hearing.
This signified that hearing loss affects the proper function of the critical warning system that would signal to you the occurrence of an accident or injury.
Hearing Loss Treatment with Hearing Aids
The treatment option depends on the causative organ in the ear and the severity of the condition. However, sometimes, hearing loss gets better on its own without any treatment. Some cases of hearing loss may be treated using steroids. Other types of hearing loss, such as gradual hearing loss that happens as you age may be permanent.
The use of hearing aids is another option for managing hearing loss. They are usually electronic devices worn in the ear to make sounds louder and clear, although they cannot be used to restore your full hearing. There is a variety of hearing aids available. The main ones include:
- Behind the ear hearing aids
- Receiver in the ear hearing aids
- In the ear hearing aids
- In the canal hearing aids
- CROS/BiCROS hearing aids
Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss
It is essential to take treat hearing loss early before the condition progress to a chronic or permanent condition. Treatment comes along with many benefits among them, improving your relationship with the society as well as enhances your mental perception protecting you from injuries and accidents.