Every year, on March 3rd, the Office of Prevention of Blindness and Deafness, a sector of the World Health Organization, celebrates world hearing day. This world hearing loss day helps bring the attention of the world to hearing-related issues.
The organization and primary members use the day to share information about hearing loss and promote action toward protecting hearing and preventing hearing loss.
What is World Hearing Day?
The internationally recognized day is more of a campaign, rather than a celebration. Essentially, the goal of the internationally recognized day is to raise awareness on deafness, hearing loss, and hearing impairments. Thus, the day can be thought of as world hearing loss day or world hearing impaired day.
The World Health Organization began recognizing the day and holding events for it in 2007. Although March 3rd is now recognized as World Hearing Day, it originally began as International Ear Care Day. Now, every year, the World Health Organization decides a theme for the year’s campaign on hearing loss awareness.
World Hearing Day Themes
In 2020, the theme for World Hearing Day was Don’t Let Hearing Loss Limit You. Hearing for Life. The goal of this year’s celebration was to raise awareness about the necessary interventions and precautions to be taken. The WHO wanted to spread the fact that individuals of all ages can protect their hearing to secure their communication abilities.
This year, there were three key messages to share. The first was to let the public know that communication is necessary, no matter the age of the individual, to connect with communities, friends, family, and the world.
The second message was to share the fact those with hearing loss should seek help quickly. This can help the individuals obtain an education on the matter, help with employment, and improved communication skills.
The third message was to spread awareness of the lack of insufficiency of access to interventions. The World Health Organization sees individuals who need hearing aids are not getting what support. The statistics back this up as well.
Hearing Loss Statistics
In 2018, the World Health Organization found over 466 million individuals suffered from some form or degree of hearing loss. 93%, or 432 million, are adults, and the remaining 7%, 34 million, are children. Furthermore, hearing loss affects nearly one-third of adults over the age of 65.
The reason the WHO chose this year’s theme of not letting hearing loss affect you for world hearing day is due to the predictions for hearing loss in the future.
The WHO estimates that by 2030, only 10 years from now, the number of cases will likely rise to 630 million individuals with hearing loss. By 2050, the WHO estimates that more than 900 million people will have some degree of hearing loss.
To back up the third key message, the WHO has estimated that nearly half of all hearing loss cases can be prevented. Public health measures, education on lifestyle choices, and the implementation of audio standards can all help prevent cases.
Currently, exposure to loud sounds, the use of headphones or other audio systems all potentially lead to hearing loss. Only through screening measures can hearing loss be detected early enough to make lifestyle changes that prevent further inner ear damage.
The Importance of World Hearing Day
The World Health Organization spends time, energy, and finances to spread awareness of hearing loss. As seen, the organization predicts that 50% of the cases can be prevented through various measures. Thus, the goal to spread awareness on hearing loss is well-justified. However, many individuals may not recognize the need for addressing the conditions.
According to the WHO, nearly 1.1 billion people between the ages of 12 and 35 are considered at risk for developing hearing loss. This risk is primarily due to loud noise exposure in recreational settings.
Furthermore, unaddressed hearing loss leads to loss of financial gain through decreased work productivity, medical treatment, and more. The estimated annual cost of unaddressed hearing loss is $750 billion. This money comes from the fact that only 17% of people who need hearing aids use them or have them.
Beyond economic causes, hearing loss has social impacts on millions of people worldwide. Individuals with hearing loss feel excluded from social life which leads to loneliness, frustration, isolation, and depression.
The impacts also spread beyond just those affected. Employers, friends, and family members of someone with hearing loss also feel the effects, especially when the person’s hearing loss goes untreated.
If you know somebody with hearing loss, tell them happy world hearing day whenever March 3rd comes around.