Ireland’s poor health record as world hearing day approaches

Majella O’Donnell, proud advocate of World Hearing Day for Hidden Hearing

Majella O’Donnell, proud advocate of World Hearing Day for Hidden Hearing

World Hearing Day, held on March 3 each year, promotes ear and hearing health, and raises awareness of how to prevent hearing loss.

The global survey indicated a poor track record for the Irish when it comes to looking after their hearing health.

Twenty two percent who took the Irish survey admitted waiting five years or more before seeking medical help for hearing loss. This was the highest figure in the global sample for treatment delay.

Similarly, only 50 percent with hearing loss said they had a hearing test in past three years, while 35 percent did not have treatment, even when a problem was identified.

Only 25 percent in the Irish survey, with mild to severe hearing loss, use hearing aids, whereas the global average is 51 percent. In countries like the USA and Australia, over 66 percent with hearing loss use hearing aids.

In Ireland however, taking an eye test regularly, recorded at 67 percent, and wearing glasses or lenses, at 71 percent, were above the global averages of 53 percent and 61 percent respectively.

General Health Screening

The World Hearing Day survey also examined awareness in relation to general health screening.

Worldwide, blood pressure was seen as the number one most important health check for those aged over 50, among people with hearing issues. This was followed by blood sugar and hearing tests.

Hearing ranked fourth in Ireland. The perceived importance of health screens saw blood pressure at number one, followed by blood sugar, eyesight, a hearing test and a dental check-up.

Because of the potential knock-on effects of hearing loss, Hidden Hearing Ireland regularly collaborates with the Irish Heart Foundation and Diabetes Ireland to provide free screening for hearing loss, heart health and diabetes.

Almost two thirds of those over the age of 50 in Ireland have high blood pressure and Type 2 Diabetes is also a growing problem, with over 200,000 already diagnosed, and the estimated prevalence of 6.5 percent of the population being considerably higher.

In Ireland, one in five adults suffer at least a mild hearing problem. By the age of 55, a quarter of the population have a significant deterioration in their hearing and, by 65, this applies to a third of people.

Hearing can be damaged by prolonged exposure to noisy environments and by infections, although, most commonly, it simply deteriorates with age.

A report by the National Council on the Ageing has shown that people with hearing loss who do not use hearing aids can be prone to depression, worry, and diminished social activity. Those whose hearing loss is treated report better relationships, improved mood, and more independence.

Of all the senses, hearing fundamentally affects quality of life and has important health and safety implications, according to Hidden Hearing CEO Stephen Leddy.

“Hearing loss is a simple fact of life, as we age. But, hearing facilitates communication and social interaction, supporting relationships and routine activities. It also means we can be alerted to danger and more conscious of it,” Stephen explained.

The 2019 Global Hearing Loss Survey was carried out among adults aged 18 and over, already with hearing issues, as well as family members of those with a hearing problem.

Book a free hearing test in your local Hidden Hearing clinic and support World hearing Day, March 3rd. You can call 1800 882 884 to book into any Hidden Hearing Clinic nationwide. Also, you can visit us online at hiddenhearing.ie

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