Few things are more adorable than videos of babies receiving cochlear implants or hearing aids and hearing their parent’s voices for the first time. The sheer delight and laughter of these tiny tots is a terrific reminder of the magic of hearing and just how important it is to all of us.
Hearing Awareness Week began on Sunday 25 February, with World Hearing Day falling on Saturday 3 March. Organised by the Deafness Forum of Australia, Hearing Awareness Week is designed to raise awareness of hearing loss and is an excellent opportunity to focus on the importance of your ears.
As registered nurses with qualifications in micro-suction and aural hygiene, we know what a difference improved hearing can make to people’s lives. Like all our five senses, when everything is functioning normally, we can easily take our senses for granted.
Issues related to hearing loss impact on a much more than just our health. Hearing loss is estimated to cost Australia millions of dollars every year in lost productivity. In addition to the obvious impediments to communicating effectively with others, hearing loss can lead to delays in spoken language development in children if left unaddressed.
Across the community more broadly, difficulties in communication can have a significant impact on enjoyment and participation in everyday life and can cause feelings of isolation and frustration.
If you are experiencing hearing problems, you are not alone. One in six Australians is hearing impaired, suffers from deafness or has an ear disorder. If you suspect that you might be suffering from one of these issues, you may have noticed that you:
- Have difficulty hearing what people are saying when in large groups or noisy situations
- Tend to think people are mumbling
- Sometimes fail to hear the doorbell or phone ring
- Always ask for the television to be turned up
Types of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be divided into three main types:
- Conductive hearing loss is when sounds can’t pass from your outer ear to your inner ear because there is a blockage such as ear wax, a build-up of fluid or a perforated ear drum.
- Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the hair cells inside the cochlea or the auditory nerve are damaged.
- Mixed hearing loss, which is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
The good news is that the World Health Organisation estimates that around half of all deafness and hearing impairment can be prevented if common causes are dealt with proactively. And, as with many common medical conditions, continued advancements in research and technology mean that diagnosing and dealing with these issues is now far safer and more effective.
Causes of Hearing Loss
Build up and impaction of ear wax is one of the causes of conductive hearing loss. In fact, it is present in one in ten children, one in twenty adults and more than one third of the ageing and developmentally delayed people in the community.
In the Hobart area alone, this means that at least 15,000 people are suffering the adverse effects of a build-up of wax. Through my work I see people of all ages, stages and walks of life suffering from wax impaction which can be easily treated and lead to a much greater quality of life.
Some people are more likely to experience a build-up of ear wax than others. This includes people with narrow, hairy or curvy ear canals, people who wear hearing aids, those who use cotton buds or other objects such as ear plugs or ear bud headphones, people who work in dusty or dirty environments or people with a hereditary disposition to wax impaction.
As with any area of your health, being proactive is the best way to combat any hearing issues whether they are a result of ear wax build up, injury or ageing. Research shows that it takes an average of seven years from the time people begin experiencing hearing problems to when they seek treatment.
Use Hearing Awareness Week to think about and value your hearing, and make an appointment to see one of our professional and friendly Registered Nurses at Earworx to ensure impacted wax is not preventing you from experiencing the magic of sound.