Hearing Awareness Week: breaking the stigma of hearing loss
This week marks Hearing Awareness Week, an annual event aimed at raising awareness of hearing impairment and its wider impact on society. This year, the theme of the event is “Hear the Future” – a theme that references the growing prevalence of hearing problems amongst younger generations in Australia, as well as the importance of protecting our long-term hearing health. Our Perth audiologists want to take this opportunity to tackle the stigma that often surrounds hearing problems in young people, in turn raising awareness of the importance of hearing loss prevention amongst Australia’s younger generations.
A problem for all generations
Whilst once associated with older generations, more and more Australians are now experiencing hearing impairment at a younger age. By 2050, it is estimated one in four Australians will experience hearing loss of some form, a growth that is due in part to the modern lifestyle choices we are making; or more specifically, to the high levels of noise we are exposing ourselves to.
“We live in an era where technology plays a big role in our social, vocational and educational environments. The use of listening devices, bluetooth headphones and mobile phone insert phones all allow unregulated acoustic signals into our ears.” – Frances Slabber, Audiologist, The Art of Hearing
Although noise levels are now highly regulated in the workplace, individuals are still developing noise-induced hearing loss at an earlier age due to damage incurred from recreational activities such as listening to music through headphones and attending noisy events such as concerts and clubs. So why aren’t we taking these hearing problems seriously?
Hearing loss: a social stigma
Despite the growth of noise-related hearing loss in Australia, many people often avoid getting their hearing checked until their hearing impairment worsens. This is partly due to the continuing stigma surrounding hearing impairment amongst young Australians who associate hearing loss as a problem for the older generation. Whilst we are quick to seek treatment for problems with our eyesight or teeth, we often don’t perceive a hearing impairment as urgent until it develops into a severe problem.
“There is still a huge stigma attached to individuals using hearing aids. It is not socially as acceptable as glasses. In addition, clients do not really understand sensory deprivation: ‘you don’t use it, you’ll lose it’. They have the perception that you need to have a severe hearing loss before you really need assistance for it.”- Frances Slabber, Audiologist, The Art of Hearing
The problem with this attitude towards hearing loss is that failure to get treatment can actually have a wide-ranging impact on one’s social and emotional well-being, even hindering the rehabilitation process once an individual has been diagnosed with a hearing impairment. This is something that most patients don’t realise until it is too late.
“As professionals, we know that hearing loss has a wide-ranging impact on people’s relationships, academics, career and overall enjoyment of life. We also know that with long-term untreated hearing loss, the communication faculty will become much poorer compared to someone whose hearing loss has been diagnosed and treated earlier.” – Amrita Gupta, Audiologist,The Art of Hearing
Prevention is key
One of the most important things to remember about noise-induced hearing loss is that it can be prevented. Unlike other forms of hearing loss, there are steps you can take to protect your ears against damage from noise exposure. By remaining aware of the sounds that surround you, getting your hearing checked regularly, and listening to the advice provided by your audiologist, you can look after the long-term health of your ears and reduce your risk of developing premature hearing loss.
If you are in need of a hearing test or would like to discuss how to protect your long-term hearing health, our Perth audiologists are here to help. Book a consultation with our friendly team via The Art of Hearing website.