Hear the Future: World Hearing Day, March 3, Will Shine Global Spotlight on Rising Toll of Hearing Loss

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ASHA Encourages Hearing Protection and Early Treatment for All Age Groups

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With hearing loss affecting 466 million people worldwide and projected to nearly double by 2050 without preventative action, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) encourages the public to heed the call to protect their hearing and treat hearing loss early this World Hearing Day (March 3). The annual day of awareness is recognized and coordinated internationally by the World Health Organization (WHO).

A major health challenge across the world, hearing loss also impacts a large number of Americans of all ages. Almost 38 million adults ages 18 and older report some trouble hearing, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Hearing loss is among the most common birth defects as well as the third most common chronic physical condition affecting older adults in the United States.

For the 2018 observance, WHO is promoting the theme, “Hear the Future,” and its outreach focuses on the expected rise in the prevalence of hearing loss, appropriate preventive actions that can help stem this rise, and the importance of ensuring that people with hearing loss have access to the rehabilitation services and communication tools/products that they require.

Factors contributing to the expected rise in overall hearing loss include the increasing prevalence of hearing loss with aging as mean life expectancy increases in many countries; improvement in the technology available for early detection and diagnosis of hearing impairment; widespread use of ototoxic medications for treating neonatal infections, ear infections, cancer, HIV, and other diseases; and rapid urbanization in many emerging economies—coupled with a common lack of enforceable regulations on environmental and occupational noise—which constitutes a growing source of noise-induced hearing impairment, according to the global health agency.

In the United States, ASHA will recognize this day of awareness in various ways including disseminating public education materials via its network of nearly 200,000 members and affiliates. It is providing a digital toolkit with consumer information on the prevalence of hearing loss as well as facts about how the condition uniquely impacts people across the lifespan. ASHA is a collaborating partner of WHO in active support of initiatives to increase awareness and services for global ear and hearing care.

Also domestically, an official resolution was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on February 15 by Reps. David McKinley and Mike Thompson that expresses support for the World Hearing Day observance.

“ASHA appreciates Representatives McKinley and Thompson for championing the resolution,” said Elise Davis-McFarland, PhD, CCC-SLP, 2018 ASHA President. “One of the most common, chronic health issues affecting Americans, hearing loss is under-recognized and under-treated as a serious health condition impacting all aspects of one’s life. We welcome this opportunity to improve public awareness about measures that can help protect hearing, the benefits of treatment, and the life-changing care that is provided by audiologists.”

To view ASHA’s digital toolkit, visit https://www.asha.org/About/news/World-Hearing-Day/. For more information from WHO about World Hearing Day, go to http://www.who.int/deafness/world-hearing-day/whd-2018/en/.

About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 198,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems, including swallowing disorders. http://www.asha.org

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Francine Pierson
ASHA
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