More than 1.5 billion people around the world have hearing loss – and this number may surpass 2.5 billion by 2050.
Do you have hearing loss?
Hearing loss is the reduced ability to hear sound. It may affect one or both ears. It can occur suddenly or gradually.
Sudden hearing loss is immediately noticeable and requires urgent medical treatment.
Gradual hearing loss happens slowly over time, and it can be harder to notice the reduction in hearing. It may become apparent when you have difficulty hearing people in noisy environments or family members comment on audio being played too loudly for comfort. It may feel like a blockage or a ringing in the ears.
Long-term hearing loss is a condition that requires early treatment. It can indicate damage in the structure of the ear(s).
If left unaddressed in children, it can lead to speech and language delay. In adults, hearing loss is associated with depression and dementia.
50% of hearing loss can be prevented
Get your hearing tested with an audiometry examination. A hearing test is recommended every 10 years for those 50 years or younger, and every 3 years for those older.
A regular screening is also recommended for people who work in high-noise environments such as construction sites. High-noise refers to 85 decibels and above, which is about the volume of heavy traffic.
An audiometry test assesses your hearing function, such as intensity and tone of sounds, and identifies issues such as balance. It is performed by an audiologist, who will recommend treatment appropriate to your condition.
An audiometry test is conducted in a sound-proof room, where the patient is required to wear headphones and asked to identify tones of different pitches and volumes. Your responses are plotted on an audiogramme. It indicates the decibel level heard and can be used to assess hearing function.
Many tests also include speech audiometry. It requires the patient to repeat the words or sounds heard – and allows the audiologist to determine your most comfortable listening level.
Life is all about communication, and people with hearing loss generally have difficulty communicating. Often people can hear their loved ones talking, but can’t understand what they are saying. This leads to loneliness and social isolation. As personal relationships decline, they can experience depression and anxiety.
Research also reveals that people with hearing loss have increased risk of cardiovascular deaths. This can arise from the increased stress, which worsen heart conditions.
Get your ears checked if you experience the following:
Persistent ear pain
Weakness of the face, ie. facial palsy
This depends on the cause of hearing loss. More profound cases may require hearing aids or cochlear implants, or surgery.