Hear, Hear! Have you heard that it’s World Hearing Day?
Lend an ear and learn about World Hearing Day—And while you’re reading, remember to keep an ear out for some helpful ear care tips.
What is World Hearing Day?
World Hearing Day, a world initiative developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), is a day designed to promote ear and hearing care across the world as an important aspect of our overall health, as well as raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss.
In preparation, WHO selects a unique theme for each year and gathers evidence-based materials advocating for the cause. These materials are developed in multiple formats such as flyers, posters, brochures, banners, presentations, infographics, etc.
These materials are then “shared with partners in government and civil society around the world, as well as WHO regional and country offices.”
WHO will also organize a big, annual World Hearing Day event at its headquarters in Geneva. Over the years, more people all over the world have joined in this initiative, hosting events and seminars.
WHO encourages everyone to participate in World Hearing Day, raising awareness of ear and hearing care.
When is World Hearing Day?
World Hearing Day is on 3 March every year. This year, World Hearing Day falls on a Friday.
What is the Theme of World Hearing Day 2023?
The theme of World Hearing Day 2023 revolves around the idea that ear care should be regarded and practiced as a prominent part of primary care.
With this theme, WHO aims to “highlight the importance of integrating ear and hearing care within primary care, as an essential component of universal health coverage.”
According to WHO, some of the key messages they want taken away from this theme are the following:
- Ear and hearing problems are among the most common problems encountered in the community.
- Over 60% of these can be identified and addressed at the primary level of care.
- Integration of ear and hearing care into primary care services is possible through training and capacity building at this level.
- Such integration will benefit people and help countries move towards the goal of universal health coverage.
Listen up! Learn These Important Ear Care and Hearing Protection Tips on World Hearing Day
What Causes Hearing Loss, and What are the Causes of Deafness?
There are many factors, from genetics to smoking, that contribute to hearing loss and deafness. The following are ways that people can develop hearing loss or deafness, from birth to adulthood:
- Genetic factors (Include hereditary and non-hereditary hearing loss)
- Birth complications such as low birth weight, Birth asphyxia (a lack of oxygen at the time of birth), etc.
- Chronic ear infections
- Collection of fluid in the ear (chronic nonsuppurative otitis media)
- Meningitis and other infections
- Chronic diseases
- Age-related sensorineural degeneration
- Sudden sensorineural hearing loss
- Cerumen impaction (impacted ear wax)
- Trauma to the ear or head
- Loud noise/loud sounds
- Ototoxic medicines
- Work-related ototoxic chemicals
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Viral infections and other ear conditions
- Delayed onset or progressive genetic hearing loss
Ear Education 101: What Can I Do to Protect My Ears Every Day?
1. Try to avoid ear infections altogether.
Ear infections are experiences that are best avoided, as they are painful and in serious cases, can lead to more serious problems such as hearing loss or deafness.
There are several types of ear infections ranging anywhere from the inner ear, outer ear, middle ear, or behind your eardrum.
They can be caused by viruses or bacteria and can be either acute (short-lasting) or chronic (long-lasting or recurring). While it is much more likely for kids to get ear infections, adults can also get ear infections.
Ear infections are commonly caused by allergies, excess mucus, colds, smoking, changes in air pressure, and sinus infections.
To prevent painful ear infections, some strategies you can utilize include washing your hands regularly, keeping up to date with your immunizations, avoiding smoking or secondhand smoke, refraining from inserting pointed objects inside your ear canal (this includes cotton buds too), and keeping your ear canals dry.
If you are a swimmer or will be swimming, wearing a cap can help prevent water that can cause bacterial ear infections from entering your ear. If you do feel any water in your ear, simply tilt your head to the side and allow the water to flow out. If you are having trouble getting the water out, you can also pull gently on your earlobe and jump up and down a little.
2. Listen to what your ears are telling you: If you get an ear infection, see a doctor and start treatment immediately.
Your ears listen all day long, so now it’s time for you to tune in and listen to them. In order to keep your ears healthy, it is important to recognize symptoms of ear infections.
Common symptoms of an ear infection are:
- mild pain or discomfort inside your ear
- a persistent feeling of pressure inside your ear
- pus-like ear drainage
- hearing loss
While most ear infections will clear up on their own, there are actions that can be taken to ease the pain during a mild infection. For example, you can apply a warm compress to your ear, avoid sleeping on the infected ear, apply over-the-counter or prescription ear drops, and take over-the-counter painkillers or decongestants.
However, if you have any doubts or concerns, or the ear infection hasn’t gone away or improved after a few days, it is always best to see your primary care doctor. They can better assess the situation and prescribe medication, such as antibiotics, that is more effective.
3. Practice Proper Ear Cleaning—Yes, there is a right way for ear wax removal.
I know. It may feel good to plunge Q-tips deep into your ear and marvel at the glob of ear wax on the cotton as you pull it out, but this actually exacerbates ear problems.
When you insert a cotton swab into your ear, you are essentially only pushing ear wax further back in your ear. This can cause issues in the future such as ear wax impaction or infections.
Believe it or not, your ears are self-cleaning. This means that you don’t have to worry about cleaning your ears at all.
However, if you must clean your ears, do so in a safe manner. You can use a warm, wet washcloth to gently clean the outside of your ear. If you want to soften up your earwax so it will fall out, you can apply drops of baby oil, hydrogen peroxide, mineral oil, glycerin, or over-the-counter wax removal kit drops.
If you think the issue may be more serious, or you have impacted ear wax, it is time to visit the doctor. Your doctor can then better assess your situation and determine the course of action that needs to be taken. In some cases, if necessary, your doctor can also perform a professional ear cleaning to remove any impacted ear wax.
4. Always Avoid or Protect Your Ears from Loud Noises and Environments.
When possible, it is always a smart idea to avoid loud noises and environments to protect your hearing.
If you are listening to music in your car or even through your earbuds, don’t blast it so loud that the car next to you can clearly hear the song you’re scream-singing to. This can lead to ear damage, hearing loss, and possibly, the dreaded ruptured ear drum.
Instead, lower your volume to a reasonable level that is enjoyable and easy on your ears. Much better—Now that’s what I call music to my ears.
Sometimes, however, you simply don’t have control over your environment. If you are at a noisy event, try and stand as far away as you can from the loudest sound-producing sources. You can also take breaks from the noise by stepping outside the stadium or taking a bathroom break at a concert.
Another useful option for attending noisy environments or situations where you are constantly working in a loud setting is hearing protection. Hearing protection comes in many forms such as inserted earplugs, earmuffs, and specially-made devices.
When looking into hearing protection, make sure to review the noise reduction rates for each product that you are considering. Eventually, you will find the hearing protection that you don’t mind wearing for long periods of time, is comfortable, fits properly, and works best for you.
5. Get Regular Ear Check-Ups with Your Doctors
They didn’t get their degrees for nothing, so instead of self-diagnosing, why not visit your doctor instead?
Whether you are experiencing ear pain or have perfectly healthy ears, getting regular ear check-ups allows you to catch any ear issue early on before it progresses to something serious, as well as maintain your healthy ears.
Being able to hear all of the different sounds of the world is a gift, so don’t neglect your ear care or take your hearing for granted.
“Hear’s” to your ears! Happy World Hearing Day!