In Australia about 3.6 million people live with some level of hearing loss, with more than 1.3 million cases involving hearing loss that could have been prevented. Hearing loss impacts a person’s ability to access education, find work opportunities and communicate clearly and effectively in their everyday lives, which can lead to social isolation. Once hearing has been lost, it often cannot be recovered.
The incidence of hearing loss increases with increasing age, with hearing loss affecting more than 50% of people aged 60-70 years of age and increasing for each decade after. Genetics, untreated ear conditions and exposure to loud noises also increase the risk of hearing loss. So, what can we do to make sure we keep our hearing and ear healthy?
- Use hearing protection when exposed to loud noises. For example, when using machinery (even mowers), in some workplaces and at music festivals or concerts.
- Avoid the use of cotton tips or any other object inside the ear canal. This can damage the eardrum and the lining of the ear canal and cause ear wax to become impacted.
- Dry your ears after bathing or swimming and avoid swimming in dirty water.
If you are communicating with someone who has hearing loss
- Speak slowly and clearly and avoid shouting
- If you are wearing a facemask, you may remove it so the person can see your mouth or use a transparent mask
- Minimize any background noise
- Use visual information, or write information down
- Ask for the person to repeat the information back so you know that the message was communicated correctly
Seek attention promptly for any concerns about your hearing or ear health. Services available for you to seek help include your pharmacist, doctor, or audiologist.