March 3 is a day designated by the World Health Organization as World Hearing Day. This observation may seem small in the world compared to the major global and national issues that command our attention, but for the 48 million Americans that are estimated to have hearing loss, this is not a trivial issue.
Hearing loss is a significant medical condition in the United States for people experiencing some degree of hearing loss, varying from mild, moderate, severe, profound or deaf. Hearing loss can occur because of aging, noise exposure, medical treatment, injury or genetics. It is also associated with higher rates of isolation, depression, dementia and balance issues that can lead to falls.
Dr. Charlotte Yeh, the Chief Medical Officer of AARP Services, Inc., and I recently discussed how to reach more people to encourage them to address their hearing loss, as research conducted by the Hearing Industries Association has consistently shown that people wait an average of 6.2 years before seeking a solution. Dr. Yeh and I agreed that solutions exist in the form of hearing aids, and the first step to better hearing is making an appointment with a hearing care professional. Effective hearing loss treatment is highly personalized and getting an evaluation from a professional will help you understand the options available and suited to you. Sound easy enough? You can find a hearing care professional here.
Do you need more encouragement? Dr. Yeh pointed out a statistic that more people should know: One of the top modifiable risk factors that can reduce the risk of dementia is addressing your hearing loss. According to the Lancet Commission Report, a 25-year prospective study of 3777 people aged 65 years or older found increased dementia incidence in those with self-reported hearing problems except in those using hearing aids.1
Today, remind everyone you care about to listen safely to prevent hearing loss and to make a hearing evaluation a part of your medical check-ups.