The World Health Organization (WHO) has released the WHO World Report on Hearing in March 2021 with some interesting reading material. Typically, people think that hearing loss is caused by age or noise exposure and effects only older individuals. But the WHO would like to remind us all that is not the case.
It is estimated that 430 million people have a disabling loss, (this number does not include mild hearing losses). This report also mentions that an estimated 1 billion young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe use of listening devices. That is truly an eye opener that hearing loss should not be thought of as an age-related issue, but rather in which stage of life you are, and how you can ensure protection of your ears.
The following Schematic representation, provided by the WHO demonstrates the factors which can be causative factors of hearing loss, and which protective factors can be implemented to protect ones hearing in all stages of life.
Schematic provided by World Health Organization, Deafness and hearing loss report 2021.
Hearing loss can occur in infants due to genetic factors, viral infections or extended Neonatal Intensive care stays. As children grow up parents might notice a delay in development of speech and language which can be due to hearing loss or reoccurring middle ear infections. One of the most prevalent causes of poor academic progress is an unidentified hearing loss.
As we move to our teenage years, we are exposed more and more to recreational noise exposure. We often think we our young and our ears will survive a few sessions of loud music, or one or two gunshots. But again, our genetics also plays a role right here, if for example you are genetically more prone to hearing loss, one session of loud blasting music or one gunshot can cause hearing loss!
By our 30’s our health becomes one of our primary focusses. We realize we are no longer 21-year-olds that can endure a loud concert but we also realize we are not old yet. Our occupation might introduce a noisy environment which we spent most of our day in and the occasional concert or gunshot is also causing a risk for hearing loss.
Later in life when we are expected to develop a hearing loss, our ears were already exposed to numerous aspects that influence our hearing abilities and the loss can be worse than anticipated. No matter the age or the stage. It is always important to protect your ears.
What actions can be taken through your life to ensure good hearing health:
From newborn to older adults, the following image gives us some guidance:
To have your hearing assessed at any stage in life, contact us!
Reference: Deafness and hearing loss. Who.int. (2021). Retrieved 25 June 2021, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/deafness-and-hearing-loss.
Compiled & written by Marike Haasbroek – Audiologist at Yolande van der Westhuizen Audiologists 2021