Monday, 6 March 2023 is World Hearing Day. If the adage “prevention is better than cure” was ever applicable, it’s to your hearing. While hearing loss can be treated, it can’t be cured.
According to the World Health Organisation, around 1.5 billion people around the world live with hearing loss (read more). That number could climb to 2.5 billion by 2050.
Despite its prevalence, hearing loss is often overlooked and left untreated. If you’ve ever spoken to someone with hearing loss, you’ll know the frustration both you and the person with hearing loss can feel. People with hearing loss often experience feeling of loneliness and isolation, as they’re often left out of conversations, or choose to retreat. Hearing loss can affect job performance and limit someone’s career.
Looking after your hearing isn’t just essential for your overall health, but your mental wellbeing too.
In a study of 639 adults over 12 years, Johns Hopkins expert Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D found that mild hearing loss doubled the risk of developing dementia. Those with severe hearing impairment were five times more likely to develop dementia (read more).
So, what are the five most common causes of hearing loss? Let’s take a look.
Age-related hearing loss: This is one of the most common forms of hearing loss. It is caused by the natural aging process, where the hair cells in the inner ear that are responsible for detecting sound degrade over time.
Noise-induced hearing loss: Exposure to loud noises (sustained loudness and extreme one-time loud noises) can cause permanent damage to the hair cells in the inner ear. This can be prevented or minimized by wearing quality ear protection.
Genetics: If there is a prevalence for hearing loss, or conditions that can lead to hearing loss in your family, consult with your doctor about possible preventative steps.
Ototoxic medications: Medications that can cause hearing loss are called ototoxic medications. These include antibiotics, chemotherapy, and even certain pain pills. If you have hearing loss or might be concerned about a medication you are taking, consult with your doctor about possible alternatives.
Infections and illnesses: Infections like meningitis and measles, or conditions like diabetes can cause hearing loss. These conditions can affect the blood flow to the inner ear and cause inflammation.
Some cases of hearing loss can be caused by a several different factors at once. As a result, not all cases of hearing loss have a clear cause. If you are experiencing hearing loss of any kind, consult with an audiologist or healthcare professional as soon as possible.
Regular hearing check-ups are also essential for good hearing health. Get your hearing tested by an audiologist or hearing healthcare professional, and ensure you identify possible causes early on to prevent further or unnecessary damage.