The world observes March 3rd as the Hearing Day, marked by the World Health Organization (WHO). It highlights the importance of safe listening and maintaining good hearing. It is customary to lose the hearing capacity with age, but one can delay the process by working on it.
Hence, the doctors and consultants also raise awareness about the prevention of deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care.
The WHO marked March 3rd as Hearing Day in 2007 to raise awareness about deafness. Earlier known as International Ear Day, the name was changed to World Hearing Day in 2016.
The UN agency has sought cooperation from governments, industry experts and civil society to raise awareness about safe listening. The organisation comes up with a different theme every year, prepares brochures, flyers, posters, banners and presentations, and so forth.
To address the growing risk of hearing loss and improve listening behaviours at all ages, the WHO set up its Make Listening Safe initiative. This year will mark the launch of a global standard for safe listening entertainment venues, the mSafeListening handbook. Media plays a crucial role, and therefore, the agency will also launch a toolkit for journalists.
This year's theme - 'To hear for life, listen with care', focuses on the importance of safe listening as means of maintaining good hearing.
What Causes Loss Of Hearing?
Factors can vary from genetic conditions to complications at birth. However, the loss can also be due to certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, loud sounds or noise, consumption of certain medicines, and changes with age.
When the causes go unaddressed, it profoundly affects communication and language development. In children, it can result in delayed cognitive development. Further, education and employment are no options for these kids, especially in developing countries.
Hearing loss might also cause social and emotional isolation, and this can be experienced at any age. Besides distressing experiences, economic uncertainty adds to the problem. The cost of hearing screening, hearing aids, implants, or rehabilitation could be problematic for some families.
Statistics & Key Factors
According to the agency report, more than 5 per cent of the global population, which accounts for nearly 430 million people, lives with hearing loss and require rehabilitation to address their loss. The figure is expected to increase in the coming years.
It is estimated that one in every ten persons might have disabling hearing loss by 2050, which is about 2.5 billion people to experience some degree of hearing loss.
Besides, nearly 700 million people will require hearing rehabilitation, the report further read. In addition, more than one billion young adults are at risk of permanent, avoidable hearing loss due to current lifestyles and a lack of awareness.
"These numbers refer to people with hearing loss more than 35 decibels (dB) in their better hearing ear, which means that sounds louder than 35 dB can be heard (35 dB is approximately the sound level of a loud whisper close to the listener)," the agency said.
In 2021, the agency launched a world hearing report that highlighted the increasing number of people living with and at risk of hearing loss. The report emphasised mitigating exposure to loud sounds and highlighted noise control as one of the seven critical hearing interventions.
Prevent is better than cure! We've all heard it, but it is now time to implement it. Apart from being aware of the root causes of hearing loss, it is essential to be conscious enough to protect the hearing.
Some of the factors that can be considered include engaging less time in noisy activities and keeping the volume low while using devices like MP3 players. Monitoring one's listening level can also help prevent any loss. Besides, wearing earplugs at unavoidable noisy places can be of great help.