Lend Us Your Ears: The Importance of Hearing Loss Education
We’re all familiar with that “muffled” feeling in our ears after we’ve been to a concert or sports event – and while it’s not a particularly pleasant sensation, you might be surprised to learn it’s actually a good sign that your ears are doing what they’re supposed to do. Scientists at Australia’s University of New South Wales recently made an interesting discovery about the way our ears work when exposed to high levels of noise. Studies revealed that the cochlea – the spiral shaped cavity in the inner ear that contains the sensory organ for hearing – has adapted to protect itself against damage in high volume situations.
As the noise levels around us rise, the cochlea produces a hormone called ATP (Adenosine triphosphate), which binds to a receptor in the inner ear and works to reduce our hearing sensitivity. This explains why so many of us experience temporary (reversible) hearing loss or hearing impairment for a few hours after a night of loud music or a stadium full of cheering fans.
While it’s good to know that our ears have developed this clever defence mechanism, researchers warn that it won’t protect us to constant exposure to intense noise levels. Luckily, the technology behind hearing protection has grown in leaps and bounds, giving us products that work for a wide range of situations and sensitivity levels. Many ear plugs and ear phones on the market today include filters that allow the wearer to communicate normally, while blocking out harmful excessive noise levels in their environment. With so many affordable hearing preservation products available, there’s really no excuse for us to expose ourselves to hearing damage that could easily be avoided.
For those of us who find ourselves affected by hearing impairment, and the threat of hearing loss, hearing aid technology has also advanced greatly in recent years. However, an infographic from Hidden Hearing revealed the following statistics about hearing aid use in the United Kingdom:
- People affected by hearing loss: More than 10 million
- Those who wear hearing aids in order to cope with hearing loss: 2 million
- Those who use their hearing aids on a regular basis: Only 1.4 million
View the full infographic, which also includes valuable information on spotting the early signs of hearing loss, and how to help a loved one cope with hearing loss.
Inform and Educate
These findings raise an important question: in an age where hearing protection and preservation is so advanced, why are people reluctant to wear hearing aids that are smaller, lighter and smarter than ever before? Evidence suggests that many people affected by hearing impairment may be a) unaware of the problem, or b) unaware of the quality and diversity products available. This highlights a great need for education about hearing loss and impairment – and it’s up to us as ear care professionals to make sure the public is informed about ears and hearing health, as wells as how to prevent, or cope with, the issue of hearing loss.
What can we do to ensure that people are better informed about hearing protection and hearing loss? Whether you’re a healthcare professional or a client, share your opinions and ideas with us in the Comments section below, so we can start a dialogue about the best ways to address this crucial national issue.