February 27, 2019
Note: View a multimedia version of this press release.
(Rockville, MD) Echoing an international call to action by the World Health Organization (WHO) this World Hearing Day, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is encouraging Americans get their hearing checked.
A WHO observance every March 3, World Hearing Day is drawing attention to the importance of early identification and intervention for hearing loss for its 2019 focus.
Failure to take action could result in poor quality of life for millions of people. WHO projects that nearly 630 million people worldwide will have disabling hearing loss by 2030 unless people tend to their hearing health. By 2050, that number could increase to more than 900 million. What’s more, unaddressed hearing loss comes with a hefty price tag. Currently, WHO says, untreated hearing loss imposes an annual cost of $750 billion globally.
The factors that foster unaddressed hearing loss vary. The overwhelming majority of those with disabling hearing loss reside in low- and middle-income countries—and generally lack access to required services and interventions.
However, in the United States, hearing loss remains one of the most common chronic health conditions.
“Most glaring in the U.S. is the need for identifying and treating hearing loss in adults,” according to Shari Robertson, PhD, CCC-SLP, 2019 ASHA President. “We know that many U.S. adults do not seek treatment for hearing loss, often due to the pervasive perception that hearing loss is simply a nuisance rather than a serious medical condition that can affect one’s overall health, mental health, job and career success, personal relationships and social life, and general quality of life.”
Among U.S. adults aged 70 and older with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than one in three (30%) has ever used them, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Even fewer adults aged 20–69 (approximately 16%) who could benefit from wearing hearing aids have ever used them.
ASHA notes that the public can ask themselves these questions about their hearing. Anyone with concerns should seek an evaluation from a certified audiologist. A searchable list of these professionals is available at www.asha.org/profind. The public can also call 800-638-8255. ASHA is also encouraging its own members to spread the word about hearing loss prevention and treatment through the availability of this digital toolkit.
About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 204,000 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.