We have never been as aware of our health and quality of life as we have been since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. We wear our masks, drink our vitamins, and wash our hands. We think twice about any behaviour that might put our health at risk.
But do we ever consider our hearing health and the impact it may have on our wellbeing?
The World Health Organization estimates that over 5% of the world’s population or 430 million people suffers from hearing loss that requires treatment. The prevalence of hearing loss increases with age, and over 25% of persons older than 60 years are affected by disabling hearing loss.
A person who is not able to hear as well as someone with normal hearing is said to have hearing loss. Some people may be more affected than others as hearing loss comes in varying degrees. A person with a mild to moderate hearing loss may hear well in quiet environments while struggling to understand speech in noisy environments especially when there is more than one speaker. Those with severe to profound hearing loss mostly rely on lip-reading to communicate with others.
Hearing loss does not only affect a person’s communication abilities but also has a social and emotional impact. When a person struggles to hear or understand what others are saying, they are unable to participate and enjoy the conversation. This leads to them withdrawing from social events and family functions which may ultimately spiral into loneliness or depression.
Unfortunately hearing loss cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be treated with the use of hearing aids. Hearing aids are small, wearable electronic devices that amplify sound to enable a person to hear better and understand speech more clearly. Hearing aids are available in a variety of different styles and technology levels. It is important that a hearing aid be programmed according to the persons hearing loss by a qualified Audiologist.
The COVID19 pandemic has brought new challenges for people with hearing loss. It is difficult for them to communicate with someone who is wearing a mask because masks can reduce the clarity of speech and lower the volume anywhere from 5 to 15 decibels (dB). At the same time, they can no longer make use of visual cues such as facial expression and lip reading. Luckily Audiologists are able to adjust hearing aids to account for how speech volume and clarity is affected by the speaker wearing a mask.
Recently published studies also indicate that COVID19 is associated with hearing loss, vertigo and tinnitus. A study published in the International Journal of Audiology showed that 7-15% of adults diagnosed with COVID19 report audio-vestibular symptoms. The most common being tinnitus (ringing in the ears) followed by hearing loss and vertigo.
It is important to have your hearing tested as part of your annual health assessment. Age related hearing loss usually occurs very slowly over several years and often goes unnoticed as a person gets used to not hearing as well. Research shows that untreated hearing loss is linked with walking problems, falls and even dementia. Remember to consider your hearing health and the impact it has on your wellbeing.
Kind2Hearing offers complete hearing services in the comfort and safety of your home. Please contact us for your appointment! All Covid-19 safety protocols are implemented.
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