Caring for hearing encouraged

Audiology South director Anthony Rowcroft (right) talks to Dick Tayler about his hearing. PHOTO:...
Audiology South director Anthony Rowcroft (right) talks to Dick Tayler about his hearing. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Two Dunedin audiologists are calling on New Zealanders to develop good hearing habits ahead of World Hearing Day next Wednesday, March 3.

World Hearing Day is an initiative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which believes the number of people with unaddressed hearing loss and ear diseases is unacceptable and must be improved.

This year’s theme is "Hearing Care for All — Screen. Rehabilitate. Communicate.".

In keeping with this theme, Audiology South directors Simon Melville and Anthony Rowcroft are urging people to get yearly hearing checks as part of their health routine.

Mr Rowcroft said good hearing was important for communication throughout life.

"Some simple actions, which everybody can do, can protect your hearing.

"Monitor ear health, immunise, turn down the volume, and get your hearing checked regularly," he said.

Mr Rowcroft said hearing loss was caused by a variety of factors: congenital, acquired, or birth complications.

Untreated hearing loss had a major impact on health and wellbeing, so if people were having trouble hearing, they should see their audiologist or doctor.

A common cause of children’s hearing loss was chronic middle ear infections, which if left untreated could affect language development and progress at school.

Diseases such as rubella, measles, mumps, and meningitis could also cause deafness.

"These illnesses are preventable, so make sure your children’s immunisations are up to date," Mr Rowcroft said.

"It’s a simple action that protects them from possible hearing damage."

Teenagers should beware, particularly if in the habit of listening to music all day at maximum volume, he said.

"The World Health Organisation says 50% of 12- to 35-year-olds worldwide could permanently damage their hearing.

"Once lost, it won’t come back."

Safe listening was a balance between three factors: loudness, duration, and frequency, he said.

The louder the sound, the shorter the time to cause damage.

There were simple actions people could take to enjoy listening without putting their hearing at risk.

They included turning the volume dial down to two-thirds, and restricting the time and frequency of listening.

Smartphone apps such as Sound Meter, SPLnFFT Noise Meter, NoiSee, or Noise Hunter might be useful to monitor safe listening levels.

"Finally, don’t ignore the early signs of hearing loss; if close family and friends are commenting on your hearing, take action," Mr Rowcroft said.

"Hearing loss can be treated, and there are many benefits to having it identified early.

"Early detection can minimise its impact on your life."

Hearing could be monitored with yearly tests.

The WHO app could be easily downloaded, or people could try the online hearing screener, available at:

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