What causes hearing loss, and how can you prevent it?
Today, 3rd March 2021 is the World Health Organisation’s World Hearing Day. Almost 4 million Australians have some form of hearing loss and this number is increasing as our population ages.
Not only that, but many Australians are living with unidentified hearing loss which can affect communication in all areas of life. It’s important that you check your hearing so you can help prevent further hearing loss.
This year’s theme is Hearing Care for ALL! Screen, Rehabilitate, Communicate. We all need to be more aware of how to prevent hearing loss and what to do when you suspect you aren’t hearing like you used to.
What can cause hearing loss?
There are many reasons for hearing loss. The major cause is ageing – nearly everyone experiences some sort of deteriorating hearing as they get older.
Other reasons for hearing loss include:
- a head injury
- chronic ear infections
- years of exposure to loud noises
- exposure to certain chemicals such as those that treat neonatal infections, malaria, drug-resistant tuberculosis, and cancers
- listening to very loud music with headphones
- excess fluid in the ear (this is a common cause of hearing loss in children)
- infectious diseases including meningitis, measles and mumps
- a foreign body in the ear canal such as wax
How do you prevent hearing loss?
Most types of hearing loss are permanent, so it’s important to preserve the hearing you have left. There are many other ways you can prevent additional hearing loss.
The number one way is to prevent damage to your ears from loud noises. This could be from wearing earplugs or protective equipment such as earmuffs if you work in a noisy workplace.
If you’re going to a loud live music event, consider wearing ear plugs and take frequent breaks.
Don’t listen to music or TV at over 60% of the volume. You should easily be able to talk to someone two metres away from you when you’ve got music or TV playing.
If you listen to music through headphones, only use them for an hour at a time and then have a break.
Don’t put foreign bodies in your ear like cotton buds, oils, sticks or any other home remedies.
Don’t swim or wash in dirty water to prevent infections.
Make sure your child’s immunisations are up to date so they don’t get diseases that cause hearing loss such as measles and mumps.
What are some signs that you’re experiencing hearing loss?
It may be hard to identify when you’re in the early stages of hearing loss.
Some signs include having trouble understanding people and having to ask them to repeat themselves. You may often think people are mumbling when they talk.
Another sign might also be if you often miss the phone or doorbell ringing and if you need the TV up louder than other people.
What should you do if you think you’re experiencing hearing loss?
The WHO has a screening app called HearWHO where you can check your hearing from time to time. This is important for people at high risk of hearing loss, including those who often listen to loud music, work in noisy places, use medicines that are harmful to hearing, or are above 60 years old.
It’s important that you monitor your hearing and get it checked by a doctor if you have any concerns.
For more information about hearing loss, visit: