Woman enjoying yoga with her friends after getting fit with hearing aids.

We normally think of hearing loss in terms of personal experience. It’s about you and your health, between you and your hearing professional. Private. And on an individual level that’s accurate. But when discussing hearing loss in a broader context, as something that impacts 466 million people, we need to recognize it as a public health concern.

Now, generally speaking, that simply means that we should be thinking of hearing loss as something that affects society overall. So as a society, we should consider how to handle it.

Hearing Loss Comes With Consequences

William just learned last week he has hearing impairment and against the advice of his hearing professional, that he can wait a bit before looking into with hearing aids. Unfortunately, this affects William’s job efficiency; he’s begun to slow down in his work and is having a difficult time following along in meetings, etc.

He also stops going out. There are just too many layers of conversation for you to keep up with (he feels like people talk too much anyway). So he isolates himself instead of going out.

These decisions will add up after a while.

  • Economic cost: Neglecting his hearing loss can impact his income over time. Some unemployment can be a consequence of hearing loss as reported by the World Health Organization. Because of this the world economy can lose as much as $105 billion in lost income and revenue. This amount of lost income is just the beginning of the narrative because it ripples through the whole economic system.
  • Social cost: William’s friends and family are missing him! His relationships are struggling due to his social separation. His friends may think he is ignoring them because they may not even know about his hearing loss. They could be getting the wrong idea concerning his behavior towards them. His relationships are becoming strained because of this.

Why is it a Public Health Problem?

While these costs will undoubtedly be felt on an individual level (William may miss his friends or be down about his economic situation), they also have an influence on everyone else. William isn’t spending as much at local merchants because he has less money. More attention will need to be given to William by his family because he doesn’t have as many friends. Over-all, his health can become affected and can lead to increased healthcare expenses. If he’s uninsured, those expenses go to the public. And so, those around William are effected rather profoundly.

You can get a sense of why public health officials take this problem very seriously when you multiply William by 466 million people.

How to Treat Hearing Loss

The good news is, this specific health problem can be managed in two easy ways: treatment and prevention. When you effectively treat hearing loss (normally by wearing hearing aids), you can have pretty dramatic results:

  • You’ll have an easier time keeping up with the demands of your job.
  • With management of hearing loss, you may be capable of lowering your chances of several linked conditions, like dementia, depression, anxiety, or balance issues.
  • It will be easier to engage in many social functions if you’re able to hear better.
  • Your relationships will get better because communicating with friends and family will be easier.

Treating your hearing loss is one way to stimulate good health, both physically and mentally. It seems logical, then, that more and more medical professionals are making hearing health a priority.

It’s just as important to consider prevention. Public information strategies seek to give people the information they need to avoid loud, damaging noise. But everyday noises such as mowing your lawn or listening to headphones can even result in hearing loss.

You can download apps that will keep track of noise levels and caution you when they get too loud. Safeguarding the public’s hearing in a broad and effective way (often using education) is one way to have a big effect.

We Can go a Long Way With a Little Help

In some states they’re even extending insurance to address hearing healthcare. That’s a strategy founded on strong research and strong public health policy. We can considerably affect public health once and for all when we adjust our ideas about preventing hearing loss.

And everybody is helped by that.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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