International Ear Care Day is a day to raise awareness and promote ear and hearing care across the world. Each year The World Health Organization (WHO) addresses a specific theme and set of activities for this day. In 2007, in Beijing, China at the First International Conference on Prevention and Rehabilitation of Hearing Impairment, the annual Ear Care Day event was held for the first time.
WHO estimates that 1.1 billion people between the ages of 12-35 worldwide are at risk of hearing loss due to unsafe use of personal audio devices such as smartphones and MP3 players and exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues including nightclubs, discotheques, bars, pubs, and sporting events. The emerging pattern of listening regularly at a high volume for a long duration poses a serious threat to one’s hearing.
Terms and Definitions from WHO
Hearing loss and deafness
A person is said to have hearing loss if they are not able to hear as well as someone with normal hearing - hearing thresholds of 20 dB or better in both ears. It can be mild, moderate, moderately severe, severe, or profound, and can affect one or both ears. Hearing loss has multiple potential causes: genetic factors, complications at birth, infectious disease, chronic ear infections, usage of certain drugs, exposure to excessive noise, and aging.
Hard of hearing and deaf
The term ‘deaf’ is used to describe the condition of people with severe or profound hearing loss in both ears as they can hear only very loud sounds or not hear anything at all.
The term ‘hard of hearing’ is used to describe the condition of people with mild to severe hearing impairment as they cannot hear as well as those with normal hearing.
Ear and hearing care
Ear and hearing care includes comprehensive, evidence-based interventions to prevent, identify and treat ear diseases and hearing loss; and to rehabilitate and support people with hearing loss through the health system and in collaboration with other systems.
The term encompasses a diverse set of interventions that can benefit people with untreatable hearing loss. These include: hearing aids, cochlear implants, other assistive devices, sign language, auditory training, speech and language therapy, and captioning.
Tips for Ear Care
Do not turn music up too loud: noise levels below 85 dB are considered safe for our hearing. If you listen to music through audio devices, do not turn it up any louder than 60% of the maximum volume.
You should listen to music through headphones that fit well and block out background noise, as this will enable you to enjoy music at a low volume even in noisy surroundings.
Wear earplugs at concerts and clubs and in other noisy environments. They can reduce the noise level by 5 to 45 dB.
Use smartphone apps to measure the level of background noise.
Keeping at a sufficient distance from the source of the noise helps to prevent hearing damage.
Make sure to give your ears a rest, make a conscious effort to take breaks from listening and turn off all noise sources.
Make sure to have your hearing regularly checked by a hearing care professional.
Not only on this day but if you have access to getting your ears checked regularly make sure to do so and to make sure lifestyle changes such as the tips listed above to help promote healthy ear care and safe listening.