Do you know anyone with hearing loss? You may know one, you may know several. You may THINK you don’t know anyone at all who has a hearing problem.
The fact is, hearing loss is a lot more common than many people think it is.
Hearing loss comes on very gradually, so someone close to you could be in the process of compensating for a hearing loss even they haven’t noticed yet.
If you look at Canada and the United States combined, statistics show that millions of people in North America are dealing with hearing loss daily. The numbers vary, depending on who’s counting and what methods they use, but everyone’s numbers are alarming.
- U.S. researchers at Johns Hopkins estimate that about 1 in five Americans age 12 or older have hearing loss of some kind.
- According to the Canadian Hearing Society, nearly one-fourth of Canadian adults have reported an experience of hearing difficulties.
- For both Canada and the U.S., the World Health Organization reports that hearing loss is a top health concern. In the U.S., it’s actually more prevalent than either diabetes or cancer. Hearing impairment is one of the most frequently occurring birth defects in Canada and may be the most common in the U.S.
- The World Health Organization also states that hearing loss is a worldwide problem as well, affecting both adults and children. Youth hearing loss is estimated to affect some 34 million young people worldwide.
People With Hearing Loss Can Be Helped
On the positive side, hearing loss can be well-managed in most cases; hearing aids, for example, can help people recover sound and keep on enjoying life without struggling to hear.
On the less-than-positive side, very few people who can improve their lives with hearing treatment ever get it. The reasons for not getting treatment vary, but the fact remains that hearing loss is a highly under-treated condition.
That’s unfortunate on several levels. Not only does hearing loss prevent people from communicating clearly with others, but it has also been shown to have connections to other very serious issues. Social isolation, depression, diabetes, dementia, heart disease, and the risk of falls are just a few of those sad possibilities.
February Is Heart Month
One way to help protect your hearing is to protect the cardiovascular blood flow that feeds your hearing mechanisms.
That means taking steps to avoid heart disease and stroke. Cardiovascular disease is the world’s number-one killer; the World Health Organization estimates that it
kills some 18 million people every year, worldwide.
The exact connection between cardiovascular disease and hearing loss isn’t always completely clear, but studies have shown that people with heart disease are 54 percent more likely than others to have hearing loss. For people who have had a heart attack, the likelihood of hearing loss is even higher. There are biological and genetic factors—age, sex, and family history to name a few—that we have no control over. But there are some health-conscious ways in which we can help ourselves avoid both cardiovascular disease and hearing loss.
Ready? Don’t use tobacco. Eat a healthy diet. Get regular exercise. Get regular physicals and hearing checks.